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The Tragedy of King Lear

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Act I

1. King Lear’s Palace.

2. The Earl of Gloucester’s Castle.

3. The Duke of Albany’s Palace.

4. The Duke of Albany’s Palace.

5. Court before the Duke of Albany’s Palace. Enter Lear, Kent, and Fool.

Act II

1. A court within the Castle of the Earl of Gloucester.

2. Before Gloucester’s Castle.

3. The open country.

4. Before Gloucester’s Castle; Kent in the stocks.


1. A heath. Storm still.

2. Another part of the heath. Storm still.

3. Gloucester’s Castle.

4. The heath. Before a hovel. Storm still.

5. Gloucester’s Castle.

6. A farmhouse near Gloucester’s Castle.

7. Gloucester’s Castle.

Act IV

1. The heath.

2. Before the Duke of Albany’s Palace.

3. The French camp near Dover.

4. The French camp.

5. Gloucester’s Castle.

6. The country near Dover.

7. A tent in the French camp.

Act V

1. The British camp near Dover.

2. A field between the two camps. Alarum within.

3. The British camp, near Dover.


Act I, Scene 1

King Lear’s Palace.

      next scene .

Enter Kent, Gloucester, and Edmund. [Kent and Gloucester converse. Edmund stands back.]

  • Earl of Kent. I thought the King had more affected the Duke of Albany than
  • Earl of Gloucester. It did always seem so to us; but now, in the division of the
    kingdom, it appears not which of the Dukes he values most, for 5
    equalities are so weigh'd that curiosity in neither can make
    choice of either's moiety.
  • Earl of Gloucester. His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have so often
    blush'd to acknowledge him that now I am braz'd to't. 10
  • Earl of Gloucester. Sir, this young fellow's mother could; whereupon she grew
    round-womb'd, and had indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ere she
    had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault?
  • Earl of Kent. I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so 15
  • Earl of Gloucester. But I have, sir, a son by order of law, some year elder than
    this, who yet is no dearer in my account. Though this knave came
    something saucily into the world before he was sent for, yet was
    his mother fair, there was good sport at his making, and the 20
    whoreson must be acknowledged.- Do you know this noble gentleman,
  • Edmund. [comes forward] No, my lord.
  • Edmund. My services to your lordship.
  • Edmund. Sir, I shall study deserving.
  • Earl of Gloucester. He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again.
    [Sound a sennet.] 30
    The King is coming.

Enter one bearing a coronet; then Lear; then the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall; next, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, with Followers.

  • Lear. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester.

Exeunt [Gloucester and Edmund].

  • Lear. Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.
    Give me the map there. Know we have divided
    In three our kingdom; and 'tis our fast intent
    To shake all cares and business from our age,
    Conferring them on younger strengths while we 40
    Unburthen'd crawl toward death. Our son of Cornwall,
    And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
    We have this hour a constant will to publish
    Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife
    May be prevented now. The princes, France and Burgundy, 45
    Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
    Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
    And here are to be answer'd. Tell me, my daughters
    (Since now we will divest us both of rule,
    Interest of territory, cares of state), 50
    Which of you shall we say doth love us most?
    That we our largest bounty may extend
    Where nature doth with merit challenge. Goneril,
    Our eldest-born, speak first.
  • Goneril. Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter; 55
    Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty;
    Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
    No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour;
    As much as child e'er lov'd, or father found;
    A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable. 60
    Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
  • Cordelia. [aside] What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent.
  • Lear. Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
    With shadowy forests and with champains rich'd,
    With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads, 65
    We make thee lady. To thine and Albany's issue
    Be this perpetual.- What says our second daughter,
    Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall? Speak.
  • Regan. Sir, I am made
    Of the selfsame metal that my sister is, 70
    And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
    I find she names my very deed of love;
    Only she comes too short, that I profess
    Myself an enemy to all other joys
    Which the most precious square of sense possesses, 75
    And find I am alone felicitate
    In your dear Highness' love.
  • Cordelia. [aside] Then poor Cordelia!
    And yet not so; since I am sure my love's
    More richer than my tongue. 80
  • Lear. To thee and thine hereditary ever
    Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom,
    No less in space, validity, and pleasure
    Than that conferr'd on Goneril.- Now, our joy,
    Although the last, not least; to whose young love 85
    The vines of France and milk of Burgundy
    Strive to be interest; what can you say to draw
    A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.
  • Lear. Nothing can come of nothing. Speak again.
  • Cordelia. Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
    My heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty
    According to my bond; no more nor less. 95
  • Lear. How, how, Cordelia? Mend your speech a little,
    Lest it may mar your fortunes.
  • Cordelia. Good my lord,
    You have begot me, bred me, lov'd me; I
    Return those duties back as are right fit, 100
    Obey you, love you, and most honour you.
    Why have my sisters husbands, if they say
    They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,
    That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry
    Half my love with him, half my care and duty. 105
    Sure I shall never marry like my sisters,
    To love my father all.
  • Lear. But goes thy heart with this?
  • Lear. So young, and so untender? 110
  • Lear. Let it be so! thy truth then be thy dower!
    For, by the sacred radiance of the sun,
    The mysteries of Hecate and the night;
    By all the operation of the orbs 115
    From whom we do exist and cease to be;
    Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
    Propinquity and property of blood,
    And as a stranger to my heart and me
    Hold thee from this for ever. The barbarous Scythian, 120
    Or he that makes his generation messes
    To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
    Be as well neighbour'd, pitied, and reliev'd,
    As thou my sometime daughter.
  • Lear. Peace, Kent!
    Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
    I lov'd her most, and thought to set my rest
    On her kind nursery.- Hence and avoid my sight!-
    So be my grave my peace as here I give 130
    Her father's heart from her! Call France! Who stirs?
    Call Burgundy! Cornwall and Albany,
    With my two daughters' dowers digest this third;
    Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
    I do invest you jointly in my power, 135
    Preeminence, and all the large effects
    That troop with majesty. Ourself, by monthly course,
    With reservation of an hundred knights,
    By you to be sustain'd, shall our abode
    Make with you by due turns. Only we still retain 140
    The name, and all th' additions to a king. The sway,
    Revenue, execution of the rest,
    Beloved sons, be yours; which to confirm,
    This coronet part betwixt you.
  • Earl of Kent. Royal Lear, 145
    Whom I have ever honour'd as my king,
    Lov'd as my father, as my master follow'd,
    As my great patron thought on in my prayers-
  • Lear. The bow is bent and drawn; make from the shaft.
  • Earl of Kent. Let it fall rather, though the fork invade 150
    The region of my heart! Be Kent unmannerly
    When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man?
    Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak
    When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's bound
    When majesty falls to folly. Reverse thy doom; 155
    And in thy best consideration check
    This hideous rashness. Answer my life my judgment,
    Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least,
    Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound
    Reverbs no hollowness. 160
  • Lear. Kent, on thy life, no more!
  • Earl of Kent. My life I never held but as a pawn
    To wage against thine enemies; nor fear to lose it,
    Thy safety being the motive.
  • Lear. Out of my sight! 165
  • Earl of Kent. See better, Lear, and let me still remain
    The true blank of thine eye.
  • Lear. Now by Apollo-
  • Earl of Kent. Now by Apollo, King,
    Thou swear'st thy gods in vain. 170
  • Lear. O vassal! miscreant! [Lays his hand on his sword.]
  • Earl of Kent. Do!
    Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
    Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift, 175
    Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat,
    I'll tell thee thou dost evil.
  • Lear. Hear me, recreant!
    On thine allegiance, hear me!
    Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow- 180
    Which we durst never yet- and with strain'd pride
    To come between our sentence and our power,-
    Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,-
    Our potency made good, take thy reward.
    Five days we do allot thee for provision 185
    To shield thee from diseases of the world,
    And on the sixth to turn thy hated back
    Upon our kingdom. If, on the tenth day following,
    Thy banish'd trunk be found in our dominions,
    The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter, 190
    This shall not be revok'd.
  • Earl of Kent. Fare thee well, King. Since thus thou wilt appear,
    Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here.
    [To Cordelia] The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid,
    That justly think'st and hast most rightly said! 195
    [To Regan and Goneril] And your large speeches may your deeds
    That good effects may spring from words of love.
    Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu;
    He'll shape his old course in a country new. Exit. 200

Flourish. Enter Gloucester, with France and Burgundy; Attendants.

  • Lear. My Lord of Burgundy,
    We first address toward you, who with this king
    Hath rivall'd for our daughter. What in the least 205
    Will you require in present dower with her,
    Or cease your quest of love?
  • Duke of Burgundy. Most royal Majesty,
    I crave no more than hath your Highness offer'd,
    Nor will you tender less. 210
  • Lear. Right noble Burgundy,
    When she was dear to us, we did hold her so;
    But now her price is fall'n. Sir, there she stands.
    If aught within that little seeming substance,
    Or all of it, with our displeasure piec'd, 215
    And nothing more, may fitly like your Grace,
    She's there, and she is yours.
  • Lear. Will you, with those infirmities she owes,
    Unfriended, new adopted to our hate, 220
    Dow'r'd with our curse, and stranger'd with our oath,
    Take her, or leave her?
  • Duke of Burgundy. Pardon me, royal sir.
    Election makes not up on such conditions.
  • Lear. Then leave her, sir; for, by the pow'r that made me, 225
    I tell you all her wealth. [To France] For you, great King,
    I would not from your love make such a stray
    To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you
    T' avert your liking a more worthier way
    Than on a wretch whom nature is asham'd 230
    Almost t' acknowledge hers.
  • King of France. This is most strange,
    That she that even but now was your best object,
    The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
    Most best, most dearest, should in this trice of time 235
    Commit a thing so monstrous to dismantle
    So many folds of favour. Sure her offence
    Must be of such unnatural degree
    That monsters it, or your fore-vouch'd affection
    Fall'n into taint; which to believe of her 240
    Must be a faith that reason without miracle
    Should never plant in me.
  • Cordelia. I yet beseech your Majesty,
    If for I want that glib and oily art
    To speak and purpose not, since what I well intend, 245
    I'll do't before I speak- that you make known
    It is no vicious blot, murther, or foulness,
    No unchaste action or dishonoured step,
    That hath depriv'd me of your grace and favour;
    But even for want of that for which I am richer- 250
    A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue
    As I am glad I have not, though not to have it
    Hath lost me in your liking.
  • Lear. Better thou
    Hadst not been born than not t' have pleas'd me better. 255
  • King of France. Is it but this- a tardiness in nature
    Which often leaves the history unspoke
    That it intends to do? My Lord of Burgundy,
    What say you to the lady? Love's not love
    When it is mingled with regards that stands 260
    Aloof from th' entire point. Will you have her?
    She is herself a dowry.
  • Duke of Burgundy. Royal Lear,
    Give but that portion which yourself propos'd,
    And here I take Cordelia by the hand, 265
    Duchess of Burgundy.
  • Lear. Nothing! I have sworn; I am firm.
  • Duke of Burgundy. I am sorry then you have so lost a father
    That you must lose a husband.
  • Cordelia. Peace be with Burgundy! 270
    Since that respects of fortune are his love,
    I shall not be his wife.
  • King of France. Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor;
    Most choice, forsaken; and most lov'd, despis'd!
    Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon. 275
    Be it lawful I take up what's cast away.
    Gods, gods! 'tis strange that from their cold'st neglect
    My love should kindle to inflam'd respect.
    Thy dow'rless daughter, King, thrown to my chance,
    Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France. 280
    Not all the dukes in wat'rish Burgundy
    Can buy this unpriz'd precious maid of me.
    Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind.
    Thou losest here, a better where to find.
  • Lear. Thou hast her, France; let her be thine; for we 285
    Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
    That face of hers again. Therefore be gone
    Without our grace, our love, our benison.
    Come, noble Burgundy.

Flourish. Exeunt Lear, Burgundy, [Cornwall, Albany, Gloucester, and Attendants].

  • Cordelia. The jewels of our father, with wash'd eyes
    Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are;
    And, like a sister, am most loath to call
    Your faults as they are nam'd. Use well our father. 295
    To your professed bosoms I commit him;
    But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
    I would prefer him to a better place!
    So farewell to you both.
  • Goneril. Prescribe not us our duties. 300
  • Regan. Let your study
    Be to content your lord, who hath receiv'd you
    At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,
    And well are worth the want that you have wanted.
  • Cordelia. Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides. 305
    Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.
    Well may you prosper!

Exeunt France and Cordelia.

  • Goneril. Sister, it is not little I have to say of what most nearly 310
    appertains to us both. I think our father will hence to-night.
  • Regan. That's most certain, and with you; next month with us.
  • Goneril. You see how full of changes his age is. The observation we
    have made of it hath not been little. He always lov'd our
    sister most, and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her 315
    off appears too grossly.
  • Regan. 'Tis the infirmity of his age; yet he hath ever but slenderly
    known himself.
  • Goneril. The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash; then
    must we look to receive from his age, not alone the 320
    imperfections of long-ingraffed condition, but therewithal
    the unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring with
  • Regan. Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this
    of Kent's banishment. 325
  • Goneril. There is further compliment of leave-taking between France and
    him. Pray you let's hit together. If our father carry authority
    with such dispositions as he bears, this last surrender of his
    will but offend us.
  • Regan. We shall further think on't. 330
  • Goneril. We must do something, and i' th' heat.


. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 2

The Earl of Gloucester’s Castle.

      next scene .

Enter [Edmund the] Bastard solus, [with a letter].

  • Edmund. Thou, Nature, art my goddess; to thy law
    My services are bound. Wherefore should I 335
    Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
    The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
    For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
    Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?
    When my dimensions are as well compact, 340
    My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
    As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us
    With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?
    Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
    More composition and fierce quality 345
    Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
    Go to th' creating a whole tribe of fops
    Got 'tween asleep and wake? Well then,
    Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land.
    Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund 350
    As to th' legitimate. Fine word- 'legitimate'!
    Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,
    And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
    Shall top th' legitimate. I grow; I prosper.
    Now, gods, stand up for bastards! 355

Enter Gloucester.

  • Earl of Gloucester. Kent banish'd thus? and France in choler parted?
    And the King gone to-night? subscrib'd his pow'r?
    Confin'd to exhibition? All this done
    Upon the gad? Edmund, how now? What news? 360
  • Edmund. So please your lordship, none.

[Puts up the letter.]

  • Edmund. I know no news, my lord.
  • Earl of Gloucester. No? What needed then that terrible dispatch of it into your
    pocket? The quality of nothing hath not such need to hide
    itself. Let's see. Come, if it be nothing, I shall not need
    spectacles. 370
  • Edmund. I beseech you, sir, pardon me. It is a letter from my brother
    that I have not all o'er-read; and for so much as I have
    perus'd, I find it not fit for your o'erlooking.
  • Edmund. I shall offend, either to detain or give it. The contents, as 375
    in part I understand them, are to blame.
  • Edmund. I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as
    an essay or taste of my virtue.
  • Earl of Gloucester. [reads] 'This policy and reverence of age makes the world 380
    bitter to the best of our times; keeps our fortunes from us
    till our oldness cannot relish them. I begin to find an idle
    and fond bondage in the oppression of aged tyranny, who sways,
    not as it hath power, but as it is suffer'd. Come to me, that
    of this I may speak more. If our father would sleep till I 385
    wak'd him, you should enjoy half his revenue for ever, and live
    the beloved of your brother,
    Hum! Conspiracy? 'Sleep till I wak'd him, you should enjoy half
    his revenue.' My son Edgar! Had he a hand to write this? a heart 390
    and brain to breed it in? When came this to you? Who brought it?
  • Edmund. It was not brought me, my lord: there's the cunning of it. I
    found it thrown in at the casement of my closet.
  • Edmund. If the matter were good, my lord, I durst swear it were his; 395
    but in respect of that, I would fain think it were not.
  • Edmund. It is his hand, my lord; but I hope his heart is not in the
  • Edmund. Never, my lord. But I have heard him oft maintain it to be fit
    that, sons at perfect age, and fathers declining, the father
    should be as ward to the son, and the son manage his revenue.
  • Earl of Gloucester. O villain, villain! His very opinion in the letter! Abhorred
    villain! Unnatural, detested, brutish villain! worse than 405
    brutish! Go, sirrah, seek him. I'll apprehend him. Abominable
    villain! Where is he?
  • Edmund. I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please you to suspend
    your indignation against my brother till you can derive from him
    better testimony of his intent, you should run a certain course; 410
    where, if you violently proceed against him, mistaking his
    purpose, it would make a great gap in your own honour and shake
    in pieces the heart of his obedience. I dare pawn down my life
    for him that he hath writ this to feel my affection to your
    honour, and to no other pretence of danger. 415
  • Edmund. If your honour judge it meet, I will place you where you shall
    hear us confer of this and by an auricular assurance have your
    satisfaction, and that without any further delay than this very
    evening. 420
  • Earl of Gloucester. To his father, that so tenderly and entirely loves him.
    Heaven and earth! Edmund, seek him out; wind me into him, I pray
    you; frame the business after your own wisdom. I would unstate 425
    myself to be in a due resolution.
  • Edmund. I will seek him, sir, presently; convey the business as I
    shall find means, and acquaint you withal.
  • Earl of Gloucester. These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to
    us. Though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet 430
    nature finds itself scourg'd by the sequent effects. Love cools,
    friendship falls off, brothers divide. In cities, mutinies; in
    countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond crack'd
    'twixt son and father. This villain of mine comes under the
    prediction; there's son against father: the King falls from bias 435
    of nature; there's father against child. We have seen the best
    of our time. Machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all
    ruinous disorders follow us disquietly to our graves. Find out
    this villain, Edmund; it shall lose thee nothing; do it
    carefully. And the noble and true-hearted Kent banish'd! his 440
    offence, honesty! 'Tis strange. Exit.
  • Edmund. This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are
    sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behaviour, we make
    guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if
    we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; 445
    knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical pre-dominance;
    drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforc'd obedience of
    planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine
    thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whore-master man, to lay
    his goatish disposition to the charge of a star! My father 450
    compounded with my mother under the Dragon's Tail, and my
    nativity was under Ursa Major, so that it follows I am rough and
    lecherous. Fut! I should have been that I am, had the
    maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing.
    Edgar- 455
    [Enter Edgar.]
    and pat! he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy. My
    cue is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom o' Bedlam.
    O, these eclipses do portend these divisions! Fa, sol, la, mi.
  • Edgar. How now, brother Edmund? What serious contemplation are you 460
  • Edmund. I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this other day,
    what should follow these eclipses.
  • Edgar. Do you busy yourself with that?
  • Edmund. I promise you, the effects he writes of succeed unhappily: as 465
    of unnaturalness between the child and the parent; death,
    dearth, dissolutions of ancient amities; divisions in state,
    menaces and maledictions against king and nobles; needless
    diffidences, banishment of friends, dissipation of cohorts,
    nuptial breaches, and I know not what. 470
  • Edgar. How long have you been a sectary astronomical?
  • Edmund. Come, come! When saw you my father last?
  • Edgar. The night gone by.
  • Edgar. Ay, two hours together. 475
  • Edmund. Parted you in good terms? Found you no displeasure in him by
    word or countenance
  • Edmund. Bethink yourself wherein you may have offended him; and at my
    entreaty forbear his presence until some little time hath 480
    qualified the heat of his displeasure, which at this instant so
    rageth in him that with the mischief of your person it would
    scarcely allay.
  • Edgar. Some villain hath done me wrong.
  • Edmund. That's my fear. I pray you have a continent forbearance till 485
    the speed of his rage goes slower; and, as I say, retire with me
    to my lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear my
    lord speak. Pray ye, go! There's my key. If you do stir abroad,
    go arm'd.
  • Edgar. Arm'd, brother? 490
  • Edmund. Brother, I advise you to the best. Go arm'd. I am no honest man
    if there be any good meaning toward you. I have told you what I
    have seen and heard; but faintly, nothing like the image and
    horror of it. Pray you, away!
  • Edgar. Shall I hear from you anon? 495
  • Edmund. I do serve you in this business.
    [Exit Edgar.]
    A credulous father! and a brother noble,
    Whose nature is so far from doing harms
    That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty 500
    My practices ride easy! I see the business.
    Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit;
    All with me's meet that I can fashion fit. Exit.
. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 3

The Duke of Albany’s Palace.

      next scene .

Enter Goneril and [her] Steward [Oswald].

  • Goneril. Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of his fool? 505
  • Goneril. By day and night, he wrongs me! Every hour
    He flashes into one gross crime or other
    That sets us all at odds. I'll not endure it.
    His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us 510
    On every trifle. When he returns from hunting,
    I will not speak with him. Say I am sick.
    If you come slack of former services,
    You shall do well; the fault of it I'll answer.

[Horns within.]

  • Oswald. He's coming, madam; I hear him.
  • Goneril. Put on what weary negligence you please,
    You and your fellows. I'd have it come to question.
    If he distaste it, let him to our sister,
    Whose mind and mine I know in that are one, 520
    Not to be overrul'd. Idle old man,
    That still would manage those authorities
    That he hath given away! Now, by my life,
    Old fools are babes again, and must be us'd
    With checks as flatteries, when they are seen abus'd. 525
    Remember what I have said.
  • Goneril. And let his knights have colder looks among you.
    What grows of it, no matter. Advise your fellows so.
    I would breed from hence occasions, and I shall, 530
    That I may speak. I'll write straight to my sister
    To hold my very course. Prepare for dinner.


. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 4

The Duke of Albany’s Palace.

      next scene .

Enter Kent, [disguised].

  • Earl of Kent. If but as well I other accents borrow, 535
    That can my speech defuse, my good intent
    May carry through itself to that full issue
    For which I raz'd my likeness. Now, banish'd Kent,
    If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemn'd,
    So may it come, thy master, whom thou lov'st, 540
    Shall find thee full of labours.
    Horns within. Enter Lear, [Knights,] and Attendants.
  • Lear. Let me not stay a jot for dinner; go get it ready. [Exit
    an Attendant.]
    How now? What art thou?
  • Lear. What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with us?
  • Earl of Kent. I do profess to be no less than I seem, to serve him truly
    that will put me in trust, to love him that is honest, to
    converse with him that is wise and says little, to fear
    judgment, to fight when I cannot choose, and to eat no fish. 550
  • Lear. What art thou?
  • Earl of Kent. A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the King.
  • Lear. If thou be'st as poor for a subject as he's for a king, thou
    art poor enough. What wouldst thou?
  • Lear. Who wouldst thou serve?
  • Lear. Dost thou know me, fellow?
  • Earl of Kent. No, sir; but you have that in your countenance which I would
    fain call master. 560
  • Lear. What services canst thou do?
  • Earl of Kent. I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale in
    telling it and deliver a plain message bluntly. That which 565
    ordinary men are fit for, I am qualified in, and the best of me
    is diligence.
  • Lear. How old art thou?
  • Earl of Kent. Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing, nor so old to
    dote on her for anything. I have years on my back forty-eight. 570
  • Lear. Follow me; thou shalt serve me. If I like thee no worse after
    dinner, I will not part from thee yet. Dinner, ho, dinner!
    Where's my knave? my fool? Go you and call my fool hither.
    [Exit an attendant.]
    [Enter [Oswald the] Steward.] 575
    You, you, sirrah, where's my daughter?
  • Lear. What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back.
    [Exit a Knight.] Where's my fool, ho? I think the world's
    asleep. 580
    [Enter Knight]
    How now? Where's that mongrel?
  • Knight. He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.
  • Lear. Why came not the slave back to me when I call'd him?
  • Knight. Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner, he would not. 585
  • Lear. He would not?
  • Knight. My lord, I know not what the matter is; but to my judgment
    your Highness is not entertain'd with that ceremonious affection
    as you were wont. There's a great abatement of kindness appears
    as well in the general dependants as in the Duke himself also 590
    and your daughter.
  • Lear. Ha! say'st thou so?
  • Knight. I beseech you pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken; for
    my duty cannot be silent when I think your Highness wrong'd.
  • Lear. Thou but rememb'rest me of mine own conception. I have 595
    perceived a most faint neglect of late, which I have rather
    blamed as mine own jealous curiosity than as a very pretence
    and purpose of unkindness. I will look further into't. But
    where's my fool? I have not seen him this two days.
  • Knight. Since my young lady's going into France, sir, the fool 600
    hath much pined away.
  • Lear. No more of that; I have noted it well. Go you and tell my
    daughter I would speak with her. [Exit Knight.] Go you, call
    hither my fool.
    [Exit an Attendant.] 605
    [Enter [Oswald the] Steward.]
    O, you, sir, you! Come you hither, sir. Who am I, sir?
  • Lear. 'My lady's father'? My lord's knave! You whoreson dog! you
    slave! you cur! 610
  • Oswald. I am none of these, my lord; I beseech your pardon.
  • Lear. Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?

[Strikes him.]

  • Oswald. I'll not be strucken, my lord.
  • Earl of Kent. Nor tripp'd neither, you base football player? 615

[Trips up his heels.

  • Lear. I thank thee, fellow. Thou serv'st me, and I'll love thee.
  • Earl of Kent. Come, sir, arise, away! I'll teach you differences. Away,
    away! If you will measure your lubber's length again, tarry; but
    away! Go to! Have you wisdom? So. 620

[Pushes him out.]

  • Lear. Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee. There's earnest of thy
    service. [Gives money.]

Enter Fool.

  • Fool. Let me hire him too. Here's my coxcomb. 625

[Offers Kent his cap.]

  • Lear. How now, my pretty knave? How dost thou?
  • Fool. Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.
  • Fool. Why? For taking one's part that's out of favour. Nay, an thou 630
    canst not smile as the wind sits, thou'lt catch cold shortly.
    There, take my coxcomb! Why, this fellow hath banish'd two on's
    daughters, and did the third a blessing against his will. If
    thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb.- How now,
    nuncle? Would I had two coxcombs and two daughters! 635
  • Fool. If I gave them all my living, I'ld keep my coxcombs myself.
    There's mine! beg another of thy daughters.
  • Lear. Take heed, sirrah- the whip.
  • Fool. Truth's a dog must to kennel; he must be whipp'd out, when 640
    Lady the brach may stand by th' fire and stink.
  • Lear. A pestilent gall to me!
  • Fool. Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech.
  • Fool. Mark it, nuncle. 645
    Have more than thou showest,
    Speak less than thou knowest,
    Lend less than thou owest,
    Ride more than thou goest,
    Learn more than thou trowest, 650
    Set less than thou throwest;
    Leave thy drink and thy whore,
    And keep in-a-door,
    And thou shalt have more
    Than two tens to a score. 655
  • Fool. Then 'tis like the breath of an unfeed lawyer- you gave me
    nothing for't. Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle?
  • Lear. Why, no, boy. Nothing can be made out of nothing.
  • Fool. [to Kent] Prithee tell him, so much the rent of his land 660
    comes to. He will not believe a fool.
  • Lear. A bitter fool!
  • Fool. Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter
    fool and a sweet fool?
  • Lear. No, lad; teach me. 665
  • Fool. That lord that counsell'd thee
    To give away thy land,
    Come place him here by me-
    Do thou for him stand.
    The sweet and bitter fool 670
    Will presently appear;
    The one in motley here,
    The other found out there.
  • Lear. Dost thou call me fool, boy?
  • Fool. All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast 675
    born with.
  • Fool. No, faith; lords and great men will not let me. If I had a
    monopoly out, they would have part on't. And ladies too, they
    will not let me have all the fool to myself; they'll be 680
    snatching. Give me an egg, nuncle, and I'll give thee two
  • Lear. What two crowns shall they be?
  • Fool. Why, after I have cut the egg i' th' middle and eat up the
    meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou clovest thy crown i' 685
    th' middle and gav'st away both parts, thou bor'st thine ass on
    thy back o'er the dirt. Thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown
    when thou gav'st thy golden one away. If I speak like myself in
    this, let him be whipp'd that first finds it so.
    [Sings] Fools had ne'er less grace in a year, 690
    For wise men are grown foppish;
    They know not how their wits to wear,
    Their manners are so apish.
  • Lear. When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah?
  • Fool. I have us'd it, nuncle, ever since thou mad'st thy daughters 695
    thy mother; for when thou gav'st them the rod, and put'st down
    thine own breeches,
    [Sings] Then they for sudden joy did weep,
    And I for sorrow sung,
    That such a king should play bo-peep 700
    And go the fools among.
    Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool to
    lie. I would fain learn to lie.
  • Lear. An you lie, sirrah, we'll have you whipp'd.
  • Fool. I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are. They'll have me 705
    whipp'd for speaking true; thou'lt have me whipp'd for lying;
    and sometimes I am whipp'd for holding my peace. I had rather be
    any kind o' thing than a fool! And yet I would not be thee,
    nuncle. Thou hast pared thy wit o' both sides and left nothing
    i' th' middle. Here comes one o' the parings. 710

Enter Goneril.

  • Lear. How now, daughter? What makes that frontlet on? Methinks you
    are too much o' late i' th' frown.
  • Fool. Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to care for
    her frowning. Now thou art an O without a figure. I am better 715
    than thou art now: I am a fool, thou art nothing.
    [To Goneril] Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue. So your face
    bids me, though you say nothing. Mum, mum!
    He that keeps nor crust nor crum,
    Weary of all, shall want some.- 720
    [Points at Lear] That's a sheal'd peascod.
  • Goneril. Not only, sir, this your all-licens'd fool,
    But other of your insolent retinue
    Do hourly carp and quarrel, breaking forth
    In rank and not-to-be-endured riots. Sir, 725
    I had thought, by making this well known unto you,
    To have found a safe redress, but now grow fearful,
    By what yourself, too, late have spoke and done,
    That you protect this course, and put it on
    By your allowance; which if you should, the fault 730
    Would not scape censure, nor the redresses sleep,
    Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,
    Might in their working do you that offence
    Which else were shame, that then necessity
    Must call discreet proceeding. 735
  • Fool. For you know, nuncle,
    The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long
    That it had it head bit off by it young.
    So out went the candle, and we were left darkling.
  • Lear. Are you our daughter? 740
  • Goneril. Come, sir,
    I would you would make use of that good wisdom
    Whereof I know you are fraught, and put away
    These dispositions that of late transform you
    From what you rightly are. 745
  • Fool. May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse?
    Whoop, Jug, I love thee!
  • Lear. Doth any here know me? This is not Lear.
    Doth Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes?
    Either his notion weakens, his discernings 750
    Are lethargied- Ha! waking? 'Tis not so!
    Who is it that can tell me who I am?
  • Fool. Lear's shadow.
  • Lear. I would learn that; for, by the marks of sovereignty,
    Knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded 755
    I had daughters.
  • Fool. Which they will make an obedient father.
  • Lear. Your name, fair gentlewoman?
  • Goneril. This admiration, sir, is much o' th' savour
    Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you 760
    To understand my purposes aright.
    As you are old and reverend, you should be wise.
    Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires;
    Men so disorder'd, so debosh'd, and bold
    That this our court, infected with their manners, 765
    Shows like a riotous inn. Epicurism and lust
    Make it more like a tavern or a brothel
    Than a grac'd palace. The shame itself doth speak
    For instant remedy. Be then desir'd
    By her that else will take the thing she begs 770
    A little to disquantity your train,
    And the remainder that shall still depend
    To be such men as may besort your age,
    Which know themselves, and you.
  • Lear. Darkness and devils! 775
    Saddle my horses! Call my train together!
    Degenerate bastard, I'll not trouble thee;
    Yet have I left a daughter.
  • Goneril. You strike my people, and your disorder'd rabble
    Make servants of their betters. 780

Enter Albany.

  • Lear. Woe that too late repents!- O, sir, are you come?
    Is it your will? Speak, sir!- Prepare my horses.
    Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend,
    More hideous when thou show'st thee in a child 785
    Than the sea-monster!
  • Lear. [to Goneril] Detested kite, thou liest!
    My train are men of choice and rarest parts,
    That all particulars of duty know 790
    And in the most exact regard support
    The worships of their name.- O most small fault,
    How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show!
    Which, like an engine, wrench'd my frame of nature
    From the fix'd place; drew from my heart all love 795
    And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear!
    Beat at this gate that let thy folly in [Strikes his head.]
    And thy dear judgment out! Go, go, my people.
  • Duke of Albany. My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant
    Of what hath mov'd you. 800
  • Lear. It may be so, my lord.
    Hear, Nature, hear! dear goddess, hear!
    Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend
    To make this creature fruitful.
    Into her womb convey sterility; 805
    Dry up in her the organs of increase;
    And from her derogate body never spring
    A babe to honour her! If she must teem,
    Create her child of spleen, that it may live
    And be a thwart disnatur'd torment to her. 810
    Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth,
    With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks,
    Turn all her mother's pains and benefits
    To laughter and contempt, that she may feel
    How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is 815
    To have a thankless child! Away, away! Exit.
  • Goneril. Never afflict yourself to know the cause;
    But let his disposition have that scope
    That dotage gives it. 820

Enter Lear.

  • Lear. What, fifty of my followers at a clap?
    Within a fortnight?
  • Lear. I'll tell thee. [To Goneril] Life and death! I am asham'd 825
    That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus;
    That these hot tears, which break from me perforce,
    Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon thee!
    Th' untented woundings of a father's curse
    Pierce every sense about thee!- Old fond eyes, 830
    Beweep this cause again, I'll pluck ye out,
    And cast you, with the waters that you lose,
    To temper clay. Yea, is it come to this?
    Let it be so. Yet have I left a daughter,
    Who I am sure is kind and comfortable. 835
    When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails
    She'll flay thy wolvish visage. Thou shalt find
    That I'll resume the shape which thou dost think
    I have cast off for ever; thou shalt, I warrant thee.

Exeunt [Lear, Kent, and Attendants].

  • Goneril. Do you mark that, my lord?
  • Duke of Albany. I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
    To the great love I bear you—
  • Goneril. Pray you, content.- What, Oswald, ho!
    [To the Fool] You, sir, more knave than fool, after your master! 845
  • Fool. Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry! Take the fool with thee.
    A fox when one has caught her,
    And such a daughter,
    Should sure to the slaughter,
    If my cap would buy a halter. 850
    So the fool follows after. Exit.
  • Goneril. This man hath had good counsel! A hundred knights?
    'Tis politic and safe to let him keep
    At point a hundred knights; yes, that on every dream,
    Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike, 855
    He may enguard his dotage with their pow'rs
    And hold our lives in mercy.- Oswald, I say!
  • Goneril. Safer than trust too far.
    Let me still take away the harms I fear, 860
    Not fear still to be taken. I know his heart.
    What he hath utter'd I have writ my sister.
    If she sustain him and his hundred knights,
    When I have show'd th' unfitness- [Enter [Oswald the] Steward.]
    How now, Oswald? 865
    What, have you writ that letter to my sister?
  • Goneril. Take you some company, and away to horse!
    Inform her full of my particular fear,
    And thereto add such reasons of your own 870
    As may compact it more. Get you gone,
    And hasten your return. [Exit Oswald.] No, no, my lord!
    This milky gentleness and course of yours,
    Though I condemn it not, yet, under pardon,
    You are much more at task for want of wisdom 875
    Than prais'd for harmful mildness.
  • Duke of Albany. How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell.
    Striving to better, oft we mar what's well.
. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 5

Court before the Duke of Albany’s Palace. Enter Lear, Kent, and Fool.

      next scene .
  • Lear. Go you before to Gloucester with these letters. Acquaint my
    daughter no further with anything you know than comes from her
    demand out of the letter. If your diligence be not speedy, I
    shall be there afore you.
  • Earl of Kent. I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered your letter. Exit. 885
  • Fool. If a man's brains were in's heels, were't not in danger of
  • Fool. Then I prithee be merry. Thy wit shall ne'er go slip-shod.
  • Lear. Ha, ha, ha! 890
  • Fool. Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly; for though
    she's as like this as a crab's like an apple, yet I can tell
    what I can tell.
  • Lear. What canst tell, boy?
  • Fool. She'll taste as like this as a crab does to a crab. Thou 895
    canst tell why one's nose stands i' th' middle on's face?
  • Fool. Why, to keep one's eyes of either side's nose, that what a
    man cannot smell out, 'a may spy into.
  • Lear. I did her wrong. 900
  • Fool. Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?
  • Fool. Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has a house.
  • Fool. Why, to put's head in; not to give it away to his daughters, 905
    and leave his horns without a case.
  • Lear. I will forget my nature. So kind a father!- Be my horses
  • Fool. Thy asses are gone about 'em. The reason why the seven stars
    are no moe than seven is a pretty reason. 910
  • Lear. Because they are not eight?
  • Fool. Yes indeed. Thou wouldst make a good fool.
  • Lear. To tak't again perforce! Monster ingratitude!
  • Fool. If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'ld have thee beaten for being
    old before thy time. 915
  • Fool. Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.
  • Lear. O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven!
    Keep me in temper; I would not be mad! [Enter a Gentleman.]
    How now? Are the horses ready? 920
  • Fool. She that's a maid now, and laughs at my departure,
    Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut shorter


. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 1

A court within the Castle of the Earl of Gloucester.

      next scene .

Enter [Edmund the] Bastard and Curan, meeting.

  • Curan. And you, sir. I have been with your father, and given him
    notice that the Duke of Cornwall and Regan his Duchess will be
    here with him this night. 930
  • Curan. Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news abroad- I mean the
    whisper'd ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing arguments?
  • Edmund. Not I. Pray you, what are they?
  • Curan. Have you heard of no likely wars toward 'twixt the two Dukes 935
    of Cornwall and Albany?
  • Curan. You may do, then, in time. Fare you well, sir. Exit.
  • Edmund. The Duke be here to-night? The better! best!
    This weaves itself perforce into my business. 940
    My father hath set guard to take my brother;
    And I have one thing, of a queasy question,
    Which I must act. Briefness and fortune, work!
    Brother, a word! Descend! Brother, I say!
    [Enter Edgar.] 945
    My father watches. O sir, fly this place!
    Intelligence is given where you are hid.
    You have now the good advantage of the night.
    Have you not spoken 'gainst the Duke of Cornwall?
    He's coming hither; now, i' th' night, i' th' haste, 950
    And Regan with him. Have you nothing said
    Upon his party 'gainst the Duke of Albany?
    Advise yourself.
  • Edgar. I am sure on't, not a word.
  • Edmund. I hear my father coming. Pardon me! 955
    In cunning I must draw my sword upon you.
    Draw, seem to defend yourself; now quit you well.-
    Yield! Come before my father. Light, ho, here!
    Fly, brother.- Torches, torches!- So farewell.
    [Exit Edgar.] 960
    Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion
    Of my more fierce endeavour. [Stabs his arm.] I have seen
    Do more than this in sport.- Father, father!-
    Stop, stop! No help? 965

Enter Gloucester, and Servants with torches.

  • Edmund. Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,
    Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon
    To stand 's auspicious mistress. 970
  • Edmund. Fled this way, sir. When by no means he could-
  • Earl of Gloucester. Pursue him, ho! Go after. [Exeunt some Servants]. 975
    By no means what?
  • Edmund. Persuade me to the murther of your lordship;
    But that I told him the revenging gods
    'Gainst parricides did all their thunders bend;
    Spoke with how manifold and strong a bond 980
    The child was bound to th' father- sir, in fine,
    Seeing how loathly opposite I stood
    To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion
    With his prepared sword he charges home
    My unprovided body, lanch'd mine arm; 985
    But when he saw my best alarum'd spirits,
    Bold in the quarrel's right, rous'd to th' encounter,
    Or whether gasted by the noise I made,
    Full suddenly he fled.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Let him fly far. 990
    Not in this land shall he remain uncaught;
    And found- dispatch. The noble Duke my master,
    My worthy arch and patron, comes to-night.
    By his authority I will proclaim it
    That he which find, him shall deserve our thanks, 995
    Bringing the murderous caitiff to the stake;
    He that conceals him, death.
  • Edmund. When I dissuaded him from his intent
    And found him pight to do it, with curst speech
    I threaten'd to discover him. He replied, 1000
    'Thou unpossessing bastard, dost thou think,
    If I would stand against thee, would the reposal
    Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee
    Make thy words faith'd? No. What I should deny
    (As this I would; ay, though thou didst produce 1005
    My very character), I'ld turn it all
    To thy suggestion, plot, and damned practice;
    And thou must make a dullard of the world,
    If they not thought the profits of my death
    Were very pregnant and potential spurs 1010
    To make thee seek it.'
  • Earl of Gloucester. Strong and fast'ned villain!
    Would he deny his letter? I never got him.
    [Tucket within.]
    Hark, the Duke's trumpets! I know not why he comes. 1015
    All ports I'll bar; the villain shall not scape;
    The Duke must grant me that. Besides, his picture
    I will send far and near, that all the kingdom
    May have due note of him, and of my land,
    Loyal and natural boy, I'll work the means 1020
    To make thee capable.

Enter Cornwall, Regan, and Attendants.

  • Duke of Cornwall. How now, my noble friend? Since I came hither
    (Which I can call but now) I have heard strange news.
  • Regan. If it be true, all vengeance comes too short 1025
    Which can pursue th' offender. How dost, my lord?
  • Regan. What, did my father's godson seek your life?
    He whom my father nam'd? Your Edgar?
  • Regan. Was he not companion with the riotous knights
    That tend upon my father?
  • Edmund. Yes, madam, he was of that consort.
  • Regan. No marvel then though he were ill affected. 1035
    'Tis they have put him on the old man's death,
    To have th' expense and waste of his revenues.
    I have this present evening from my sister
    Been well inform'd of them, and with such cautions
    That, if they come to sojourn at my house, 1040
    I'll not be there.
  • Duke of Cornwall. Nor I, assure thee, Regan.
    Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father
    A childlike office.
  • Edmund. 'Twas my duty, sir. 1045
  • Earl of Gloucester. He did bewray his practice, and receiv'd
    This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.
  • Duke of Cornwall. If he be taken, he shall never more 1050
    Be fear'd of doing harm. Make your own purpose,
    How in my strength you please. For you, Edmund,
    Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant
    So much commend itself, you shall be ours.
    Natures of such deep trust we shall much need; 1055
    You we first seize on.
  • Edmund. I shall serve you, sir,
    Truly, however else.
  • Regan. Thus out of season, threading dark-ey'd night.
    Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise,
    Wherein we must have use of your advice.
    Our father he hath writ, so hath our sister,
    Of differences, which I best thought it fit 1065
    To answer from our home. The several messengers
    From hence attend dispatch. Our good old friend,
    Lay comforts to your bosom, and bestow
    Your needful counsel to our business,
    Which craves the instant use. 1070

Exeunt. Flourish.

. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 2

Before Gloucester’s Castle.

      next scene .

Enter Kent and [Oswald the] Steward, severally.

  • Oswald. Good dawning to thee, friend. Art of this house? 1075
  • Oswald. Where may we set our horses?
  • Oswald. Prithee, if thou lov'st me, tell me.
  • Oswald. Why then, I care not for thee.
  • Earl of Kent. If I had thee in Lipsbury Pinfold, I would make thee care for
  • Oswald. Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.
  • Oswald. What dost thou know me for?
  • Earl of Kent. A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud,
    shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy,
    worsted-stocking knave; a lily-liver'd, action-taking, whoreson,
    glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue; 1090
    one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of
    good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave,
    beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch;
    one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deny the
    least syllable of thy addition. 1095
  • Oswald. Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on one
    that's neither known of thee nor knows thee!
  • Earl of Kent. What a brazen-fac'd varlet art thou, to deny thou knowest me!
    Is it two days ago since I beat thee and tripp'd up thy heels
    before the King? [Draws his sword.] Draw, you rogue! for, though 1100
    it be night, yet the moon shines. I'll make a sop o' th'
    moonshine o' you. Draw, you whoreson cullionly barbermonger!
  • Oswald. Away! I have nothing to do with thee.
  • Earl of Kent. Draw, you rascal! You come with letters against the King, and 1105
    take Vanity the puppet's part against the royalty of her father.
    Draw, you rogue, or I'll so carbonado your shanks! Draw, you
    rascal! Come your ways!
  • Oswald. Help, ho! murther! help!
  • Earl of Kent. Strike, you slave! Stand, rogue! Stand, you neat slave! 1110
    Strike! [Beats him.]
  • Oswald. Help, ho! murther! murther!

Enter Edmund, with his rapier drawn, Gloucester, Cornwall, Regan, Servants.

  • Edmund. How now? What's the matter? Parts [them].
  • Earl of Kent. With you, goodman boy, an you please! Come, I'll flesh ye! 1115
    Come on, young master!
  • Duke of Cornwall. Keep peace, upon your lives!
    He dies that strikes again. What is the matter?
  • Regan. The messengers from our sister and the King 1120
  • Oswald. I am scarce in breath, my lord.
  • Earl of Kent. No marvel, you have so bestirr'd your valour. You cowardly
    rascal, nature disclaims in thee; a tailor made thee.
  • Earl of Kent. Ay, a tailor, sir. A stonecutter or a painter could not have
    made him so ill, though he had been but two hours at the trade.
  • Oswald. This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spar'd
    At suit of his grey beard- 1130
  • Earl of Kent. Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter! My lord, if
    you'll give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villain into
    mortar and daub the walls of a jakes with him. 'Spare my grey
    beard,' you wagtail?
  • Earl of Kent. That such a slave as this should wear a sword,
    Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these, 1140
    Like rats, oft bite the holy cords atwain
    Which are too intrinse t' unloose; smooth every passion
    That in the natures of their lords rebel,
    Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods;
    Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks 1145
    With every gale and vary of their masters,
    Knowing naught (like dogs) but following.
    A plague upon your epileptic visage!
    Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
    Goose, an I had you upon Sarum Plain, 1150
    I'ld drive ye cackling home to Camelot.
  • Earl of Kent. No contraries hold more antipathy
    Than I and such a knave. 1155
  • Earl of Kent. Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain.
    I have seen better faces in my time 1160
    Than stands on any shoulder that I see
    Before me at this instant.
  • Duke of Cornwall. This is some fellow
    Who, having been prais'd for bluntness, doth affect
    A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb 1165
    Quite from his nature. He cannot flatter, he!
    An honest mind and plain- he must speak truth!
    An they will take it, so; if not, he's plain.
    These kind of knaves I know which in this plainness
    Harbour more craft and more corrupter ends 1170
    Than twenty silly-ducking observants
    That stretch their duties nicely.
  • Earl of Kent. Sir, in good faith, in sincere verity,
    Under th' allowance of your great aspect,
    Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire 1175
    On flickering Phoebus' front-
  • Earl of Kent. To go out of my dialect, which you discommend so much. I
    know, sir, I am no flatterer. He that beguil'd you in a plain
    accent was a plain knave, which, for my part, I will not be, 1180
    though I should win your displeasure to entreat me to't.
  • Oswald. I never gave him any.
    It pleas'd the King his master very late
    To strike at me, upon his misconstruction; 1185
    When he, conjunct, and flattering his displeasure,
    Tripp'd me behind; being down, insulted, rail'd
    And put upon him such a deal of man
    That worthied him, got praises of the King
    For him attempting who was self-subdu'd; 1190
    And, in the fleshment of this dread exploit,
    Drew on me here again.
  • Earl of Kent. None of these rogues and cowards
    But Ajax is their fool.
  • Duke of Cornwall. Fetch forth the stocks! 1195
    You stubborn ancient knave, you reverent braggart,
    We'll teach you-
  • Earl of Kent. Sir, I am too old to learn.
    Call not your stocks for me. I serve the King;
    On whose employment I was sent to you. 1200
    You shall do small respect, show too bold malice
    Against the grace and person of my master,
    Stocking his messenger.
  • Duke of Cornwall. Fetch forth the stocks! As I have life and honour,
    There shall he sit till noon. 1205
  • Regan. Till noon? Till night, my lord, and all night too!
  • Earl of Kent. Why, madam, if I were your father's dog,
    You should not use me so.
  • Regan. Sir, being his knave, I will.
  • Duke of Cornwall. This is a fellow of the selfsame colour 1210
    Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the stocks!

Stocks brought out.

  • Earl of Gloucester. Let me beseech your Grace not to do so.
    His fault is much, and the good King his master
    Will check him for't. Your purpos'd low correction 1215
    Is such as basest and contemn'dest wretches
    For pilf'rings and most common trespasses
    Are punish'd with. The King must take it ill
    That he, so slightly valued in his messenger,
    Should have him thus restrain'd. 1220
  • Regan. My sister may receive it much more worse,
    To have her gentleman abus'd, assaulted,
    For following her affairs. Put in his legs.-
    [Kent is put in the stocks.] 1225
    Come, my good lord, away.

Exeunt [all but Gloucester and Kent].

  • Earl of Gloucester. I am sorry for thee, friend. 'Tis the Duke's pleasure,
    Whose disposition, all the world well knows,
    Will not be rubb'd nor stopp'd. I'll entreat for thee. 1230
  • Earl of Kent. Pray do not, sir. I have watch'd and travell'd hard.
    Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I'll whistle.
    A good man's fortune may grow out at heels.
    Give you good morrow!
  • Earl of Kent. Good King, that must approve the common saw,
    Thou out of heaven's benediction com'st
    To the warm sun!
    Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,
    That by thy comfortable beams I may 1240
    Peruse this letter. Nothing almost sees miracles
    But misery. I know 'tis from Cordelia,
    Who hath most fortunately been inform'd
    Of my obscured course- and [reads] 'shall find time
    From this enormous state, seeking to give 1245
    Losses their remedies'- All weary and o'erwatch'd,
    Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
    This shameful lodging.
    Fortune, good night; smile once more, turn thy wheel.


. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 3

The open country.

      next scene .

Enter Edgar.

  • Edgar. I heard myself proclaim'd,
    And by the happy hollow of a tree
    Escap'd the hunt. No port is free, no place
    That guard and most unusual vigilance 1255
    Does not attend my taking. Whiles I may scape,
    I will preserve myself; and am bethought
    To take the basest and most poorest shape
    That ever penury, in contempt of man,
    Brought near to beast. My face I'll grime with filth, 1260
    Blanket my loins, elf all my hair in knots,
    And with presented nakedness outface
    The winds and persecutions of the sky.
    The country gives me proof and precedent
    Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices, 1265
    Strike in their numb'd and mortified bare arms
    Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary;
    And with this horrible object, from low farms,
    Poor pelting villages, sheepcotes, and mills,
    Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers, 1270
    Enforce their charity. 'Poor Turlygod! poor Tom!'
    That's something yet! Edgar I nothing am. Exit.
. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 4

Before Gloucester’s Castle; Kent in the stocks.

      next scene .

Enter Lear, Fool, and Gentleman.

  • Lear. 'Tis strange that they should so depart from home,
    And not send back my messenger. 1275
  • Gentleman. As I learn'd,
    The night before there was no purpose in them
    Of this remove.
  • Lear. Ha! 1280
    Mak'st thou this shame thy pastime?
  • Fool. Ha, ha! look! he wears cruel garters. Horses are tied by the
    head, dogs and bears by th' neck, monkeys by th' loins, and men
    by th' legs. When a man's over-lusty at legs, then he wears 1285
    wooden nether-stocks.
  • Lear. What's he that hath so much thy place mistook
    To set thee here?
  • Earl of Kent. It is both he and she-
    Your son and daughter. 1290
  • Lear. No, no, they would not! 1295
  • Lear. By Jupiter, I swear no!
  • Lear. They durst not do't;
    They would not, could not do't. 'Tis worse than murther 1300
    To do upon respect such violent outrage.
    Resolve me with all modest haste which way
    Thou mightst deserve or they impose this usage,
    Coming from us.
  • Earl of Kent. My lord, when at their home 1305
    I did commend your Highness' letters to them,
    Ere I was risen from the place that show'd
    My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post,
    Stew'd in his haste, half breathless, panting forth
    From Goneril his mistress salutations; 1310
    Deliver'd letters, spite of intermission,
    Which presently they read; on whose contents,
    They summon'd up their meiny, straight took horse,
    Commanded me to follow and attend
    The leisure of their answer, gave me cold looks, 1315
    And meeting here the other messenger,
    Whose welcome I perceiv'd had poison'd mine-
    Being the very fellow which of late
    Display'd so saucily against your Highness-
    Having more man than wit about me, drew. 1320
    He rais'd the house with loud and coward cries.
    Your son and daughter found this trespass worth
    The shame which here it suffers.
  • Fool. Winter's not gone yet, if the wild geese fly that way.
    Fathers that wear rags 1325
    Do make their children blind;
    But fathers that bear bags
    Shall see their children kind.
    Fortune, that arrant whore,
    Ne'er turns the key to th' poor. 1330
    But for all this, thou shalt have as many dolours for thy
    daughters as thou canst tell in a year.
  • Lear. O, how this mother swells up toward my heart!
    Hysterica passio! Down, thou climbing sorrow!
    Thy element's below! Where is this daughter? 1335
  • Lear. Follow me not;
    Stay here. Exit.
  • Gentleman. Made you no more offence but what you speak of?
  • Earl of Kent. None. 1340
    How chance the King comes with so small a number?
  • Fool. An thou hadst been set i' th' stocks for that question,
    thou'dst well deserv'd it.
  • Fool. We'll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there's no 1345
    labouring i' th' winter. All that follow their noses are led by
    their eyes but blind men, and there's not a nose among twenty
    but can smell him that's stinking. Let go thy hold when a great
    wheel runs down a hill, lest it break thy neck with following
    it; but the great one that goes upward, let him draw thee after. 1350
    When a wise man gives thee better counsel, give me mine again. I
    would have none but knaves follow it, since a fool gives it.
    That sir which serves and seeks for gain,
    And follows but for form,
    Will pack when it begins to rain 1355
    And leave thee in the storm.
    But I will tarry; the fool will stay,
    And let the wise man fly.
    The knave turns fool that runs away;
    The fool no knave, perdy. 1360
  • Fool. Not i' th' stocks, fool.
    Enter Lear and Gloucester
  • Lear. Deny to speak with me? They are sick? they are weary?
    They have travell'd all the night? Mere fetches- 1365
    The images of revolt and flying off!
    Fetch me a better answer.
  • Earl of Gloucester. My dear lord,
    You know the fiery quality of the Duke,
    How unremovable and fix'd he is 1370
    In his own course.
  • Lear. Vengeance! plague! death! confusion!
    Fiery? What quality? Why, Gloucester, Gloucester,
    I'ld speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife.
  • Lear. Inform'd them? Dost thou understand me, man?
  • Lear. The King would speak with Cornwall; the dear father
    Would with his daughter speak, commands her service.
    Are they inform'd of this? My breath and blood! 1380
    Fiery? the fiery Duke? Tell the hot Duke that-
    No, but not yet! May be he is not well.
    Infirmity doth still neglect all office
    Whereto our health is bound. We are not ourselves
    When nature, being oppress'd, commands the mind 1385
    To suffer with the body. I'll forbear;
    And am fallen out with my more headier will,
    To take the indispos'd and sickly fit
    For the sound man.- Death on my state! Wherefore
    Should he sit here? This act persuades me 1390
    That this remotion of the Duke and her
    Is practice only. Give me my servant forth.
    Go tell the Duke and 's wife I'ld speak with them-
    Now, presently. Bid them come forth and hear me,
    Or at their chamber door I'll beat the drum 1395
    Till it cry sleep to death.
  • Lear. O me, my heart, my rising heart! But down!
  • Fool. Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels when she
    put 'em i' th' paste alive. She knapp'd 'em o' th' coxcombs with 1400
    a stick and cried 'Down, wantons, down!' 'Twas her brother that,
    in pure kindness to his horse, buttered his hay.

Enter Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, Servants.

  • Lear. Good morrow to you both.

Kent here set at liberty.

  • Regan. I am glad to see your Highness.
  • Lear. Regan, I think you are; I know what reason
    I have to think so. If thou shouldst not be glad,
    I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb, 1410
    Sepulchring an adultress. [To Kent] O, are you free?
    Some other time for that.- Beloved Regan,
    Thy sister's naught. O Regan, she hath tied
    Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, here!
    [Lays his hand on his heart.] 1415
    I can scarce speak to thee. Thou'lt not believe
    With how deprav'd a quality- O Regan!
  • Regan. I pray you, sir, take patience. I have hope
    You less know how to value her desert
    Than she to scant her duty. 1420
  • Lear. Say, how is that?
  • Regan. I cannot think my sister in the least
    Would fail her obligation. If, sir, perchance
    She have restrain'd the riots of your followers,
    'Tis on such ground, and to such wholesome end, 1425
    As clears her from all blame.
  • Lear. My curses on her!
  • Regan. O, sir, you are old!
    Nature in you stands on the very verge
    Of her confine. You should be rul'd, and led 1430
    By some discretion that discerns your state
    Better than you yourself. Therefore I pray you
    That to our sister you do make return;
    Say you have wrong'd her, sir.
  • Lear. Ask her forgiveness? 1435
    Do you but mark how this becomes the house:
    'Dear daughter, I confess that I am old. [Kneels.]
    Age is unnecessary. On my knees I beg
    That you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.'
  • Regan. Good sir, no more! These are unsightly tricks. 1440
    Return you to my sister.
  • Lear. [rises] Never, Regan!
    She hath abated me of half my train;
    Look'd black upon me; struck me with her tongue,
    Most serpent-like, upon the very heart. 1445
    All the stor'd vengeances of heaven fall
    On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones,
    You taking airs, with lameness!
  • Lear. You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames 1450
    Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,
    You fen-suck'd fogs, drawn by the pow'rful sun,
    To fall and blast her pride!
  • Regan. O the blest gods! so will you wish on me
    When the rash mood is on. 1455
  • Lear. No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse.
    Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give
    Thee o'er to harshness. Her eyes are fierce; but thine
    Do comfort, and not burn. 'Tis not in thee
    To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train, 1460
    To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
    And, in conclusion, to oppose the bolt
    Against my coming in. Thou better know'st
    The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
    Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude. 1465
    Thy half o' th' kingdom hast thou not forgot,
    Wherein I thee endow'd.
  • Regan. Good sir, to th' purpose.

Tucket within.

  • Lear. Who put my man i' th' stocks? 1470
  • Regan. I know't- my sister's. This approves her letter,
    That she would soon be here.
    [Enter [Oswald the] Steward.]
    Is your lady come? 1475
  • Lear. This is a slave, whose easy-borrowed pride
    Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.
    Out, varlet, from my sight!

Enter Goneril.

  • Lear. Who stock'd my servant? Regan, I have good hope
    Thou didst not know on't.- Who comes here? O heavens!
    If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
    Allow obedience- if yourselves are old,
    Make it your cause! Send down, and take my part! 1485
    [To Goneril] Art not asham'd to look upon this beard?-
    O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand?
  • Goneril. Why not by th' hand, sir? How have I offended?
    All's not offence that indiscretion finds
    And dotage terms so. 1490
  • Lear. O sides, you are too tough!
    Will you yet hold? How came my man i' th' stocks?
  • Duke of Cornwall. I set him there, sir; but his own disorders
    Deserv'd much less advancement.
  • Lear. You? Did you? 1495
  • Regan. I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.
    If, till the expiration of your month,
    You will return and sojourn with my sister,
    Dismissing half your train, come then to me.
    I am now from home, and out of that provision 1500
    Which shall be needful for your entertainment.
  • Lear. Return to her, and fifty men dismiss'd?
    No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
    To wage against the enmity o' th' air,
    To be a comrade with the wolf and owl- 1505
    Necessity's sharp pinch! Return with her?
    Why, the hot-blooded France, that dowerless took
    Our youngest born, I could as well be brought
    To knee his throne, and, squire-like, pension beg
    To keep base life afoot. Return with her? 1510
    Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter
    To this detested groom. [Points at Oswald.]
  • Lear. I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad.
    I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell. 1515
    We'll no more meet, no more see one another.
    But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter;
    Or rather a disease that's in my flesh,
    Which I must needs call mine. Thou art a boil,
    A plague sore, an embossed carbuncle 1520
    In my corrupted blood. But I'll not chide thee.
    Let shame come when it will, I do not call it.
    I do not bid the Thunder-bearer shoot
    Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove.
    Mend when thou canst; be better at thy leisure; 1525
    I can be patient, I can stay with Regan,
    I and my hundred knights.
  • Regan. Not altogether so.
    I look'd not for you yet, nor am provided
    For your fit welcome. Give ear, sir, to my sister; 1530
    For those that mingle reason with your passion
    Must be content to think you old, and so-
    But she knows what she does.
  • Lear. Is this well spoken?
  • Regan. I dare avouch it, sir. What, fifty followers? 1535
    Is it not well? What should you need of more?
    Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger
    Speak 'gainst so great a number? How in one house
    Should many people, under two commands,
    Hold amity? 'Tis hard; almost impossible. 1540
  • Goneril. Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
    From those that she calls servants, or from mine?
  • Regan. Why not, my lord? If then they chanc'd to slack ye,
    We could control them. If you will come to me
    (For now I spy a danger), I entreat you 1545
    To bring but five-and-twenty. To no more
    Will I give place or notice.
  • Lear. I gave you all-
  • Regan. And in good time you gave it!
  • Lear. Made you my guardians, my depositaries; 1550
    But kept a reservation to be followed
    With such a number. What, must I come to you
    With five-and-twenty, Regan? Said you so?
  • Regan. And speak't again my lord. No more with me.
  • Lear. Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favour'd 1555
    When others are more wicked; not being the worst
    Stands in some rank of praise. [To Goneril] I'll go with thee.
    Thy fifty yet doth double five-and-twenty,
    And thou art twice her love.
  • Goneril. Hear, me, my lord. 1560
    What need you five-and-twenty, ten, or five,
    To follow in a house where twice so many
    Have a command to tend you?
  • Lear. O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars 1565
    Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
    Allow not nature more than nature needs,
    Man's life is cheap as beast's. Thou art a lady:
    If only to go warm were gorgeous,
    Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st 1570
    Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But, for true need-
    You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
    You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
    As full of grief as age; wretched in both.
    If it be you that stirs these daughters' hearts 1575
    Against their father, fool me not so much
    To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,
    And let not women's weapons, water drops,
    Stain my man's cheeks! No, you unnatural hags!
    I will have such revenges on you both 1580
    That all the world shall- I will do such things-
    What they are yet, I know not; but they shall be
    The terrors of the earth! You think I'll weep.
    No, I'll not weep.
    I have full cause of weeping, but this heart 1585
    Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
    Or ere I'll weep. O fool, I shall go mad!

Exeunt Lear, Gloucester, Kent, and Fool. Storm and tempest.

  • Regan. This house is little; the old man and 's people 1590
    Cannot be well bestow'd.
  • Goneril. 'Tis his own blame; hath put himself from rest
    And must needs taste his folly.
  • Regan. For his particular, I'll receive him gladly,
    But not one follower. 1595
  • Goneril. So am I purpos'd.
    Where is my Lord of Gloucester?
  • Duke of Cornwall. Followed the old man forth.
    [Enter Gloucester.]
    He is return'd. 1600
  • Goneril. My lord, entreat him by no means to stay. 1605
  • Earl of Gloucester. Alack, the night comes on, and the bleak winds
    Do sorely ruffle. For many miles about
    There's scarce a bush.
  • Regan. O, sir, to wilful men
    The injuries that they themselves procure 1610
    Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors.
    He is attended with a desperate train,
    And what they may incense him to, being apt
    To have his ear abus'd, wisdom bids fear.
  • Duke of Cornwall. Shut up your doors, my lord: 'tis a wild night. 1615
    My Regan counsels well. Come out o' th' storm. [Exeunt.]
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 1

A heath. Storm still.

      next scene .

Enter Kent and a Gentleman at several doors.

  • Gentleman. One minded like the weather, most unquietly.
  • Gentleman. Contending with the fretful elements;
    Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea,
    Or swell the curled waters 'bove the main,
    That things might change or cease; tears his white hair,
    Which the impetuous blasts, with eyeless rage, 1625
    Catch in their fury and make nothing of;
    Strives in his little world of man to outscorn
    The to-and-fro-conflicting wind and rain.
    This night, wherein the cub-drawn bear would couch,
    The lion and the belly-pinched wolf 1630
    Keep their fur dry, unbonneted he runs,
    And bids what will take all.
  • Gentleman. None but the fool, who labours to outjest
    His heart-struck injuries. 1635
  • Earl of Kent. Sir, I do know you,
    And dare upon the warrant of my note
    Commend a dear thing to you. There is division
    (Although as yet the face of it be cover'd
    With mutual cunning) 'twixt Albany and Cornwall; 1640
    Who have (as who have not, that their great stars
    Thron'd and set high?) servants, who seem no less,
    Which are to France the spies and speculations
    Intelligent of our state. What hath been seen,
    Either in snuffs and packings of the Dukes, 1645
    Or the hard rein which both of them have borne
    Against the old kind King, or something deeper,
    Whereof, perchance, these are but furnishings-
    But, true it is, from France there comes a power
    Into this scattered kingdom, who already, 1650
    Wise in our negligence, have secret feet
    In some of our best ports and are at point
    To show their open banner. Now to you:
    If on my credit you dare build so far
    To make your speed to Dover, you shall find 1655
    Some that will thank you, making just report
    Of how unnatural and bemadding sorrow
    The King hath cause to plain.
    I am a gentleman of blood and breeding,
    And from some knowledge and assurance offer 1660
    This office to you.
  • Earl of Kent. No, do not.
    For confirmation that I am much more
    Than my out-wall, open this purse and take 1665
    What it contains. If you shall see Cordelia
    (As fear not but you shall), show her this ring,
    And she will tell you who your fellow is
    That yet you do not know. Fie on this storm!
    I will go seek the King. 1670
  • Gentleman. Give me your hand. Have you no more to say?
  • Earl of Kent. Few words, but, to effect, more than all yet:
    That, when we have found the King (in which your pain
    That way, I'll this), he that first lights on him
    Holla the other. 1675

Exeunt [severally].

. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 2

Another part of the heath. Storm still.

      next scene .

Enter Lear and Fool.

  • Lear. Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
    You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
    Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks! 1680
    You sulph'rous and thought-executing fires,
    Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
    Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
    Strike flat the thick rotundity o' th' world,
    Crack Nature's moulds, all germains spill at once, 1685
    That makes ingrateful man!
  • Fool. O nuncle, court holy water in a dry house is better than this
    rain water out o' door. Good nuncle, in, and ask thy daughters
    blessing! Here's a night pities nether wise men nor fools.
  • Lear. Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain! 1690
    Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters.
    I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness.
    I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children,
    You owe me no subscription. Then let fall
    Your horrible pleasure. Here I stand your slave, 1695
    A poor, infirm, weak, and despis'd old man.
    But yet I call you servile ministers,
    That will with two pernicious daughters join
    Your high-engender'd battles 'gainst a head
    So old and white as this! O! O! 'tis foul! 1700
  • Fool. He that has a house to put 's head in has a good head-piece.
    The codpiece that will house
    Before the head has any,
    The head and he shall louse:
    So beggars marry many. 1705
    The man that makes his toe
    What he his heart should make
    Shall of a corn cry woe,
    And turn his sleep to wake.
    For there was never yet fair woman but she made mouths in a 1710

Enter Kent.

  • Lear. No, I will be the pattern of all patience;
    I will say nothing.
  • Fool. Marry, here's grace and a codpiece; that's a wise man and a
  • Earl of Kent. Alas, sir, are you here? Things that love night
    Love not such nights as these. The wrathful skies
    Gallow the very wanderers of the dark 1720
    And make them keep their caves. Since I was man,
    Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder,
    Such groans of roaring wind and rain, I never
    Remember to have heard. Man's nature cannot carry
    Th' affliction nor the fear. 1725
  • Lear. Let the great gods,
    That keep this dreadful pudder o'er our heads,
    Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,
    That hast within thee undivulged crimes
    Unwhipp'd of justice. Hide thee, thou bloody hand; 1730
    Thou perjur'd, and thou simular man of virtue
    That art incestuous. Caitiff, in pieces shake
    That under covert and convenient seeming
    Hast practis'd on man's life. Close pent-up guilts,
    Rive your concealing continents, and cry 1735
    These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man
    More sinn'd against than sinning.
  • Earl of Kent. Alack, bareheaded?
    Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel;
    Some friendship will it lend you 'gainst the tempest. 1740
    Repose you there, whilst I to this hard house
    (More harder than the stones whereof 'tis rais'd,
    Which even but now, demanding after you,
    Denied me to come in) return, and force
    Their scanted courtesy. 1745
  • Lear. My wits begin to turn.
    Come on, my boy. How dost, my boy? Art cold?
    I am cold myself. Where is this straw, my fellow?
    The art of our necessities is strange,
    That can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel. 1750
    Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
    That's sorry yet for thee.
  • Fool. [sings]
    He that has and a little tiny wit-
    With hey, ho, the wind and the rain- 1755
    Must make content with his fortunes fit,
    For the rain it raineth every day.
  • Lear. True, my good boy. Come, bring us to this hovel.

Exeunt [Lear and Kent].

  • Fool. This is a brave night to cool a courtesan. I'll speak a 1760
    prophecy ere I go:
    When priests are more in word than matter;
    When brewers mar their malt with water;
    When nobles are their tailors' tutors,
    No heretics burn'd, but wenches' suitors; 1765
    When every case in law is right,
    No squire in debt nor no poor knight;
    When slanders do not live in tongues,
    Nor cutpurses come not to throngs;
    When usurers tell their gold i' th' field, 1770
    And bawds and whores do churches build:
    Then shall the realm of Albion
    Come to great confusion.
    Then comes the time, who lives to see't,
    That going shall be us'd with feet. 1775
    This prophecy Merlin shall make, for I live before his time. Exit.
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 3

Gloucester’s Castle.

      next scene .

Enter Gloucester and Edmund.

  • Earl of Gloucester. Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural dealing! When
    I desir'd their leave that I might pity him, they took from me
    the use of mine own house, charg'd me on pain of perpetual 1780
    displeasure neither to speak of him, entreat for him, nor any
    way sustain him.
  • Edmund. Most savage and unnatural!
  • Earl of Gloucester. Go to; say you nothing. There is division betwixt the Dukes,
    and a worse matter than that. I have received a letter this 1785
    night- 'tis dangerous to be spoken- I have lock'd the letter in
    my closet. These injuries the King now bears will be revenged
    home; there's part of a power already footed; we must incline to
    the King. I will seek him and privily relieve him. Go you and
    maintain talk with the Duke, that my charity be not of him 1790
    perceived. If he ask for me, I am ill and gone to bed. Though I
    die for't, as no less is threat'ned me, the King my old master
    must be relieved. There is some strange thing toward, Edmund.
    Pray you be careful. Exit.
  • Edmund. This courtesy, forbid thee, shall the Duke 1795
    Instantly know, and of that letter too.
    This seems a fair deserving, and must draw me
    That which my father loses- no less than all.
    The younger rises when the old doth fall. Exit.
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 4

The heath. Before a hovel. Storm still.

      next scene .

Enter Lear, Kent, and Fool.

  • Earl of Kent. Here is the place, my lord. Good my lord, enter.
    The tyranny of the open night 's too rough
    For nature to endure.
  • Lear. Let me alone.
  • Lear. Wilt break my heart?
  • Earl of Kent. I had rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter.
  • Lear. Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm
    Invades us to the skin. So 'tis to thee;
    But where the greater malady is fix'd, 1810
    The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'dst shun a bear;
    But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea,
    Thou'dst meet the bear i' th' mouth. When the mind's free,
    The body's delicate. The tempest in my mind
    Doth from my senses take all feeling else 1815
    Save what beats there. Filial ingratitude!
    Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand
    For lifting food to't? But I will punish home!
    No, I will weep no more. In such a night
    To shut me out! Pour on; I will endure. 1820
    In such a night as this! O Regan, Goneril!
    Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all!
    O, that way madness lies; let me shun that!
    No more of that.
  • Lear. Prithee go in thyself; seek thine own ease.
    This tempest will not give me leave to ponder
    On things would hurt me more. But I'll go in.
    [To the Fool] In, boy; go first.- You houseless poverty-
    Nay, get thee in. I'll pray, and then I'll sleep. [Exit Fool] 1830
    Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are,
    That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
    How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
    Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
    From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en 1835
    Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
    Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
    That thou mayst shake the superflux to them
    And show the heavens more just.
  • Edgar. [within] Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor Tom! 1840

Enter Fool [from the hovel].

  • Fool. Come not in here, nuncle, here's a spirit. Help me, help me!
  • Fool. A spirit, a spirit! He says his name's poor Tom.
  • Earl of Kent. What art thou that dost grumble there i' th' straw? 1845
    Come forth.

Enter Edgar [disguised as a madman].

  • Edgar. Away! the foul fiend follows me! Through the sharp hawthorn
    blows the cold wind. Humh! go to thy cold bed, and warm thee.
  • Lear. Hast thou given all to thy two daughters, and art thou come 1850
    to this?
  • Edgar. Who gives anything to poor Tom? whom the foul fiend hath led
    through fire and through flame, through ford and whirlpool, o'er
    bog and quagmire; that hath laid knives under his pillow and
    halters in his pew, set ratsbane by his porridge, made him proud 1855
    of heart, to ride on a bay trotting horse over four-inch'd
    bridges, to course his own shadow for a traitor. Bless thy five
    wits! Tom 's acold. O, do de, do de, do de. Bless thee from
    whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking! Do poor Tom some charity,
    whom the foul fiend vexes. There could I have him now- and there- 1860
    and there again- and there!

Storm still.

  • Lear. What, have his daughters brought him to this pass?
    Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give 'em all?
  • Fool. Nay, he reserv'd a blanket, else we had been all sham'd. 1865
  • Lear. Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air
    Hang fated o'er men's faults light on thy daughters!
  • Lear. Death, traitor! nothing could have subdu'd nature
    To such a lowness but his unkind daughters. 1870
    Is it the fashion that discarded fathers
    Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?
    Judicious punishment! 'Twas this flesh begot
    Those pelican daughters.
  • Edgar. Pillicock sat on Pillicock's Hill. 'Allow, 'allow, loo, loo! 1875
  • Fool. This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.
  • Edgar. Take heed o' th' foul fiend; obey thy parents: keep thy word
    justly; swear not; commit not with man's sworn spouse; set not
    thy sweet heart on proud array. Tom 's acold.
  • Lear. What hast thou been? 1880
  • Edgar. A servingman, proud in heart and mind; that curl'd my hair,
    wore gloves in my cap; serv'd the lust of my mistress' heart and
    did the act of darkness with her; swore as many oaths as I spake
    words, and broke them in the sweet face of heaven; one that
    slept in the contriving of lust, and wak'd to do it. Wine lov'd 1885
    I deeply, dice dearly; and in woman out-paramour'd the Turk.
    False of heart, light of ear, bloody of hand; hog in sloth, fox
    in stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey.
    Let not the creaking of shoes nor the rustling of silks betray
    thy poor heart to woman. Keep thy foot out of brothel, thy hand 1890
    out of placket, thy pen from lender's book, and defy the foul
    fiend. Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind; says
    suum, mun, hey, no, nonny. Dolphin my boy, my boy, sessa! let
    him trot by.

Storm still.

  • Lear. Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer with thy
    uncover'd body this extremity of the skies. Is man no more than
    this? Consider him well. Thou ow'st the worm no silk, the beast
    no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! Here's three
    on's are sophisticated! Thou art the thing itself; 1900
    unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked
    animal as thou art. Off, off, you lendings! Come, unbutton

[Tears at his clothes.]

  • Fool. Prithee, nuncle, be contented! 'Tis a naughty night to swim 1905
    in. Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old lecher's
    heart- a small spark, all the rest on's body cold. Look, here
    comes a walking fire.

Enter Gloucester with a torch.

  • Edgar. This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet. He begins at curfew, 1910
    and walks till the first cock. He gives the web and the pin,
    squints the eye, and makes the harelip; mildews the white wheat,
    and hurts the poor creature of earth.
    Saint Withold footed thrice the 'old;
    He met the nightmare, and her nine fold; 1915
    Bid her alight
    And her troth plight,
    And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!
  • Lear. What's he? 1920
  • Edgar. Poor Tom, that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the todpole,
    the wall-newt and the water; that in the fury of his heart, when
    the foul fiend rages, eats cow-dung for sallets, swallows the 1925
    old rat and the ditch-dog, drinks the green mantle of the
    standing pool; who is whipp'd from tithing to tithing, and
    stock-punish'd and imprison'd; who hath had three suits to his
    back, six shirts to his body, horse to ride, and weapons to
    wear; 1930
    But mice and rats, and such small deer,
    Have been Tom's food for seven long year.
    Beware my follower. Peace, Smulkin! peace, thou fiend!
  • Edgar. The prince of darkness is a gentleman! 1935
    Modo he's call'd, and Mahu.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Our flesh and blood is grown so vile, my lord,
    That it doth hate what gets it.
  • Edgar. Poor Tom 's acold.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Go in with me. My duty cannot suffer 1940
    T' obey in all your daughters' hard commands.
    Though their injunction be to bar my doors
    And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you,
    Yet have I ventur'd to come seek you out
    And bring you where both fire and food is ready. 1945
  • Lear. First let me talk with this philosopher.
    What is the cause of thunder?
  • Earl of Kent. Good my lord, take his offer; go into th' house.
  • Lear. I'll talk a word with this same learned Theban.
    What is your study? 1950
  • Edgar. How to prevent the fiend and to kill vermin.
  • Lear. Let me ask you one word in private.
  • Earl of Kent. Importune him once more to go, my lord.
    His wits begin t' unsettle.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Canst thou blame him? [Storm still.] 1955
    His daughters seek his death. Ah, that good Kent!
    He said it would be thus- poor banish'd man!
    Thou say'st the King grows mad: I'll tell thee, friend,
    I am almost mad myself. I had a son,
    Now outlaw'd from my blood. He sought my life 1960
    But lately, very late. I lov'd him, friend-
    No father his son dearer. True to tell thee,
    The grief hath craz'd my wits. What a night 's this!
    I do beseech your Grace-
  • Lear. O, cry you mercy, sir. 1965
    Noble philosopher, your company.
  • Lear. Come, let's in all.
  • Lear. With him!
    I will keep still with my philosopher.
  • Earl of Kent. Good my lord, soothe him; let him take the fellow.
  • Lear. Come, good Athenian.
  • Edgar. Child Rowland to the dark tower came;
    His word was still
    Fie, foh, and fum! 1980
    I smell the blood of a British man.


. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 5

Gloucester’s Castle.

      next scene .

Enter Cornwall and Edmund.

  • Edmund. How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature thus gives way to 1985
    loyalty, something fears me to think of.
  • Duke of Cornwall. I now perceive it was not altogether your brother's evil
    disposition made him seek his death; but a provoking merit, set
    awork by a reproveable badness in himself.
  • Edmund. How malicious is my fortune that I must repent to be just! 1990
    This is the letter he spoke of, which approves him an
    intelligent party to the advantages of France. O heavens! that
    this treason were not- or not I the detector!
  • Edmund. If the matter of this paper be certain, you have mighty 1995
    business in hand.
  • Duke of Cornwall. True or false, it hath made thee Earl of Gloucester.
    Seek out where thy father is, that he may be ready for our
  • Edmund. [aside] If I find him comforting the King, it will stuff his 2000
    suspicion more fully.- I will persever in my course of loyalty,
    though the conflict be sore between that and my blood.
  • Duke of Cornwall. I will lay trust upon thee, and thou shalt find a dearer
    father in my love.


. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 6

A farmhouse near Gloucester’s Castle.

      next scene .

Enter Gloucester, Lear, Kent, Fool, and Edgar.

  • Earl of Gloucester. Here is better than the open air; take it thankfully. I will
    piece out the comfort with what addition I can. I will not be
    long from you.
  • Earl of Kent. All the power of his wits have given way to his impatience. 2010
    The gods reward your kindness!

Exit [Gloucester].

  • Edgar. Frateretto calls me, and tells me Nero is an angler in the
    lake of darkness. Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.
  • Fool. Prithee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a gentleman or a 2015
  • Lear. A king, a king!
  • Fool. No, he's a yeoman that has a gentleman to his son; for he's a
    mad yeoman that sees his son a gentleman before him.
  • Lear. To have a thousand with red burning spits 2020
    Come hizzing in upon 'em-
  • Edgar. The foul fiend bites my back.
  • Fool. He's mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse's
    health, a boy's love, or a whore's oath.
  • Lear. It shall be done; I will arraign them straight. 2025
    [To Edgar] Come, sit thou here, most learned justicer.
    [To the Fool] Thou, sapient sir, sit here. Now, you she-foxes!
  • Edgar. Look, where he stands and glares! Want'st thou eyes at trial,
    Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me. 2030
  • Fool. Her boat hath a leak,
    And she must not speak
    Why she dares not come over to thee.
  • Edgar. The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a nightingale.
    Hoppedance cries in Tom's belly for two white herring. Croak 2035
    not, black angel; I have no food for thee.
  • Earl of Kent. How do you, sir? Stand you not so amaz'd.
    Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions?
  • Lear. I'll see their trial first. Bring in their evidence.
    [To Edgar] Thou, robed man of justice, take thy place. 2040
    [To the Fool] And thou, his yokefellow of equity,
    Bench by his side. [To Kent] You are o' th' commission,
    Sit you too.
  • Edgar. Let us deal justly.
    Sleepest or wakest thou, jolly shepherd? 2045
    Thy sheep be in the corn;
    And for one blast of thy minikin mouth
    Thy sheep shall take no harm.
    Purr! the cat is gray.
  • Lear. Arraign her first. 'Tis Goneril. I here take my oath before 2050
    this honourable assembly, she kicked the poor King her father.
  • Fool. Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril?
  • Lear. She cannot deny it.
  • Fool. Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint-stool.
  • Lear. And here's another, whose warp'd looks proclaim 2055
    What store her heart is made on. Stop her there!
    Arms, arms! sword! fire! Corruption in the place!
    False justicer, why hast thou let her scape?
  • Edgar. Bless thy five wits!
  • Earl of Kent. O pity! Sir, where is the patience now 2060
    That you so oft have boasted to retain?
  • Edgar. [aside] My tears begin to take his part so much
    They'll mar my counterfeiting.
  • Lear. The little dogs and all,
    Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, see, they bark at me. 2065
  • Edgar. Tom will throw his head at them. Avaunt, you curs!
    Be thy mouth or black or white,
    Tooth that poisons if it bite;
    Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim,
    Hound or spaniel, brach or lym, 2070
    Bobtail tyke or trundle-tail-
    Tom will make them weep and wail;
    For, with throwing thus my head,
    Dogs leap the hatch, and all are fled.
    Do de, de, de. Sessa! Come, march to wakes and fairs and market 2075
    towns. Poor Tom, thy horn is dry.
  • Lear. Then let them anatomize Regan. See what breeds about her
    heart. Is there any cause in nature that makes these hard
    hearts? [To Edgar] You, sir- I entertain you for one of my
    hundred; only I do not like the fashion of your garments. You'll 2080
    say they are Persian attire; but let them be chang'd.
  • Lear. Make no noise, make no noise; draw the curtains.
    So, so, so. We'll go to supper i' th' morning. So, so, so.
  • Fool. And I'll go to bed at noon. 2085

Enter Gloucester.

  • Earl of Kent. Here, sir; but trouble him not; his wits are gone.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Good friend, I prithee take him in thy arms.
    I have o'erheard a plot of death upon him. 2090
    There is a litter ready; lay him in't
    And drive towards Dover, friend, where thou shalt meet
    Both welcome and protection. Take up thy master.
    If thou shouldst dally half an hour, his life,
    With thine, and all that offer to defend him, 2095
    Stand in assured loss. Take up, take up!
    And follow me, that will to some provision
    Give thee quick conduct.
  • Earl of Kent. Oppressed nature sleeps.
    This rest might yet have balm'd thy broken senses, 2100
    Which, if convenience will not allow,
    Stand in hard cure. [To the Fool] Come, help to bear thy master.
    Thou must not stay behind.

Exeunt [all but Edgar].

  • Edgar. When we our betters see bearing our woes,
    We scarcely think our miseries our foes.
    Who alone suffers suffers most i' th' mind,
    Leaving free things and happy shows behind;
    But then the mind much sufferance doth o'erskip 2110
    When grief hath mates, and bearing fellowship.
    How light and portable my pain seems now,
    When that which makes me bend makes the King bow,
    He childed as I fathered! Tom, away!
    Mark the high noises, and thyself bewray 2115
    When false opinion, whose wrong thought defiles thee,
    In thy just proof repeals and reconciles thee.
    What will hap more to-night, safe scape the King!
    Lurk, lurk. [Exit.]
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 7

Gloucester’s Castle.

      next scene .

Enter Cornwall, Regan, Goneril, [Edmund the] Bastard, and Servants.

  • Duke of Cornwall. [to Goneril] Post speedily to my lord your husband, show him
    this letter. The army of France is landed.- Seek out the traitor

[Exeunt some of the Servants.]

  • Regan. Hang him instantly. 2125
  • Duke of Cornwall. Leave him to my displeasure. Edmund, keep you our sister
    company. The revenges we are bound to take upon your traitorous
    father are not fit for your beholding. Advise the Duke where you
    are going, to a most festinate preparation. We are bound to the 2130
    like. Our posts shall be swift and intelligent betwixt us.
    Farewell, dear sister; farewell, my Lord of Gloucester. [Enter Oswald the Steward.]
    How now? Where's the King?
  • Oswald. My Lord of Gloucester hath convey'd him hence.
    Some five or six and thirty of his knights, 2135
    Hot questrists after him, met him at gate;
    Who, with some other of the lord's dependants,
    Are gone with him towards Dover, where they boast
    To have well-armed friends.
  • Goneril. Farewell, sweet lord, and sister.
  • Duke of Cornwall. Edmund, farewell. [Exeunt Goneril, Edmund, and Oswald.]
    Go seek the traitor Gloucester,
    Pinion him like a thief, bring him before us. [Exeunt other Servants.]
    Though well we may not pass upon his life 2145
    Without the form of justice, yet our power
    Shall do a court'sy to our wrath, which men
    May blame, but not control. [Enter Gloucester, brought in by two or three.]
    Who's there? the traitor?
  • Regan. Ingrateful fox! 'tis he. 2150
  • Earl of Gloucester. What mean, your Graces? Good my friends, consider
    You are my guests. Do me no foul play, friends.

[Servants bind him.]

  • Regan. Hard, hard. O filthy traitor!

[Regan plucks his beard.]

  • Earl of Gloucester. By the kind gods, 'tis most ignobly done 2160
    To pluck me by the beard.
  • Regan. So white, and such a traitor!
  • Earl of Gloucester. Naughty lady,
    These hairs which thou dost ravish from my chin
    Will quicken, and accuse thee. I am your host. 2165
    With robber's hands my hospitable favours
    You should not ruffle thus. What will you do?
  • Regan. Be simple-answer'd, for we know the truth.
  • Duke of Cornwall. And what confederacy have you with the traitors 2170
    Late footed in the kingdom?
  • Regan. To whose hands have you sent the lunatic King?
  • Earl of Gloucester. I have a letter guessingly set down,
    Which came from one that's of a neutral heart, 2175
    And not from one oppos'd.
  • Regan. Wherefore to Dover? Wast thou not charg'd at peril-
  • Regan. Wherefore to Dover, sir?
  • Earl of Gloucester. Because I would not see thy cruel nails 2185
    Pluck out his poor old eyes; nor thy fierce sister
    In his anointed flesh stick boarish fangs.
    The sea, with such a storm as his bare head
    In hell-black night endur'd, would have buoy'd up
    And quench'd the steeled fires. 2190
    Yet, poor old heart, he holp the heavens to rain.
    If wolves had at thy gate howl'd that stern time,
    Thou shouldst have said, 'Good porter, turn the key.'
    All cruels else subscrib'd. But I shall see
    The winged vengeance overtake such children. 2195
  • Duke of Cornwall. See't shalt thou never. Fellows, hold the chair.
    Upon these eyes of thine I'll set my foot.
  • Earl of Gloucester. He that will think to live till he be old,
    Give me some help!- O cruel! O ye gods!
  • Regan. One side will mock another. Th' other too! 2200
  • Servant 1. Hold your hand, my lord!
    I have serv'd you ever since I was a child;
    But better service have I never done you
    Than now to bid you hold. 2205
  • Regan. How now, you dog?
  • Servant 1. If you did wear a beard upon your chin,
    I'ld shake it on this quarrel.
  • Regan. What do you mean?
  • Servant 1. Nay, then, come on, and take the chance of anger.
  • Regan. Give me thy sword. A peasant stand up thus?
    She takes a sword and runs at him behind.
  • Servant 1. O, I am slain! My lord, you have one eye left
    To see some mischief on him. O! He dies. 2215
  • Duke of Cornwall. Lest it see more, prevent it. Out, vile jelly!
    Where is thy lustre now?
  • Earl of Gloucester. All dark and comfortless! Where's my son Edmund?
    Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature
    To quit this horrid act. 2220
  • Regan. Out, treacherous villain!
    Thou call'st on him that hates thee. It was he
    That made the overture of thy treasons to us;
    Who is too good to pity thee.
  • Earl of Gloucester. O my follies! Then Edgar was abus'd. 2225
    Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him!
  • Regan. Go thrust him out at gates, and let him smell
    His way to Dover. [Exit one with Gloucester.]
    How is't, my lord? How look you?
  • Duke of Cornwall. I have receiv'd a hurt. Follow me, lady. 2230
    Turn out that eyeless villain. Throw this slave
    Upon the dunghill. Regan, I bleed apace.
    Untimely comes this hurt. Give me your arm.

Exit [Cornwall, led by Regan].

  • Servant 2. I'll never care what wickedness I do, 2235
    If this man come to good.
  • Servant 3. If she live long,
    And in the end meet the old course of death,
    Women will all turn monsters.
  • Servant 2. Let's follow the old Earl, and get the bedlam 2240
    To lead him where he would. His roguish madness
    Allows itself to anything.
  • Servant 3. Go thou. I'll fetch some flax and whites of eggs
    To apply to his bleeding face. Now heaven help him!


. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 1

The heath.

      next scene .

Enter Edgar.

  • Edgar. Yet better thus, and known to be contemn'd,
    Than still contemn'd and flatter'd. To be worst,
    The lowest and most dejected thing of fortune,
    Stands still in esperance, lives not in fear. 2250
    The lamentable change is from the best;
    The worst returns to laughter. Welcome then,
    Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace!
    The wretch that thou hast blown unto the worst
    Owes nothing to thy blasts. 2255
    [Enter Gloucester, led by an Old Man.]
    But who comes here?
    My father, poorly led? World, world, O world!
    But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,
    Life would not yield to age. 2260
  • Old Man. O my good lord,
    I have been your tenant, and your father's tenant,
    These fourscore years.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Away, get thee away! Good friend, be gone.
    Thy comforts can do me no good at all; 2265
    Thee they may hurt.
  • Earl of Gloucester. I have no way, and therefore want no eyes;
    I stumbled when I saw. Full oft 'tis seen
    Our means secure us, and our mere defects 2270
    Prove our commodities. Ah dear son Edgar,
    The food of thy abused father's wrath!
    Might I but live to see thee in my touch,
    I'ld say I had eyes again!
  • Old Man. How now? Who's there? 2275
  • Edgar. [aside] O gods! Who is't can say 'I am at the worst'?
    I am worse than e'er I was.
  • Edgar. [aside] And worse I may be yet. The worst is not
    So long as we can say 'This is the worst.' 2280
  • Earl of Gloucester. He has some reason, else he could not beg.
    I' th' last night's storm I such a fellow saw, 2285
    Which made me think a man a worm. My son
    Came then into my mind, and yet my mind
    Was then scarce friends with him. I have heard more since.
    As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods.
    They kill us for their sport. 2290
  • Edgar. [aside] How should this be?
    Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,
    Ang'ring itself and others.- Bless thee, master!
  • Earl of Gloucester. Then prithee get thee gone. If for my sake
    Thou wilt o'ertake us hence a mile or twain
    I' th' way toward Dover, do it for ancient love;
    And bring some covering for this naked soul,
    Who I'll entreat to lead me. 2300
  • Earl of Gloucester. 'Tis the time's plague when madmen lead the blind.
    Do as I bid thee, or rather do thy pleasure.
    Above the rest, be gone.
  • Old Man. I'll bring him the best 'parel that I have, 2305
    Come on't what will. Exit.
  • Edgar. Poor Tom's acold. [Aside] I cannot daub it further.
  • Edgar. [aside] And yet I must.- Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed. 2310
  • Edgar. Both stile and gate, horseway and footpath. Poor Tom hath been
    scar'd out of his good wits. Bless thee, good man's son, from
    the foul fiend! Five fiends have been in poor Tom at once: of
    lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididence, prince of dumbness; Mahu, of 2315
    stealing; Modo, of murder; Flibbertigibbet, of mopping and
    mowing, who since possesses chambermaids and waiting women. So,
    bless thee, master!
  • Earl of Gloucester. Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens' plagues
    Have humbled to all strokes. That I am wretched 2320
    Makes thee the happier. Heavens, deal so still!
    Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man,
    That slaves your ordinance, that will not see
    Because he does not feel, feel your pow'r quickly;
    So distribution should undo excess, 2325
    And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?
  • Earl of Gloucester. There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
    Looks fearfully in the confined deep.
    Bring me but to the very brim of it, 2330
    And I'll repair the misery thou dost bear
    With something rich about me. From that place
    I shall no leading need.
  • Edgar. Give me thy arm.
    Poor Tom shall lead thee. 2335


. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 2

Before the Duke of Albany’s Palace.

      next scene .

Enter Goneril and [Edmund the] Bastard.

  • Goneril. Welcome, my lord. I marvel our mild husband
    Not met us on the way. [Enter Oswald the Steward.]
    Now, where's your master? 2340
  • Oswald. Madam, within, but never man so chang'd.
    I told him of the army that was landed:
    He smil'd at it. I told him you were coming:
    His answer was, 'The worse.' Of Gloucester's treachery
    And of the loyal service of his son 2345
    When I inform'd him, then he call'd me sot
    And told me I had turn'd the wrong side out.
    What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him;
    What like, offensive.
  • Goneril. [to Edmund] Then shall you go no further. 2350
    It is the cowish terror of his spirit,
    That dares not undertake. He'll not feel wrongs
    Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way
    May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother.
    Hasten his musters and conduct his pow'rs. 2355
    I must change arms at home and give the distaff
    Into my husband's hands. This trusty servant
    Shall pass between us. Ere long you are like to hear
    (If you dare venture in your own behalf)
    A mistress's command. Wear this. [Gives a favour.] 2360
    Spare speech.
    Decline your head. This kiss, if it durst speak,
    Would stretch thy spirits up into the air.
    Conceive, and fare thee well.
  • Edmund. Yours in the ranks of death! Exit. 2365
  • Goneril. My most dear Gloucester!
    O, the difference of man and man!
    To thee a woman's services are due;
    My fool usurps my body.
  • Oswald. Madam, here comes my lord. Exit. 2370

Enter Albany.

  • Goneril. I have been worth the whistle.
  • Duke of Albany. O Goneril,
    You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
    Blows in your face! I fear your disposition. 2375
    That nature which contemns it origin
    Cannot be bordered certain in itself.
    She that herself will sliver and disbranch
    From her material sap, perforce must wither
    And come to deadly use. 2380
  • Goneril. No more! The text is foolish.
  • Duke of Albany. Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile;
    Filths savour but themselves. What have you done?
    Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform'd?
    A father, and a gracious aged man, 2385
    Whose reverence even the head-lugg'd bear would lick,
    Most barbarous, most degenerate, have you madded.
    Could my good brother suffer you to do it?
    A man, a prince, by him so benefited!
    If that the heavens do not their visible spirits 2390
    Send quickly down to tame these vile offences,
    It will come,
    Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
    Like monsters of the deep.
  • Goneril. Milk-liver'd man! 2395
    That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;
    Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
    Thine honour from thy suffering; that not know'st
    Fools do those villains pity who are punish'd
    Ere they have done their mischief. Where's thy drum? 2400
    France spreads his banners in our noiseless land,
    With plumed helm thy state begins to threat,
    Whiles thou, a moral fool, sit'st still, and criest
    'Alack, why does he so?'
  • Duke of Albany. See thyself, devil! 2405
    Proper deformity seems not in the fiend
    So horrid as in woman.
  • Duke of Albany. Thou changed and self-cover'd thing, for shame!
    Bemonster not thy feature! Were't my fitness 2410
    To let these hands obey my blood,
    They are apt enough to dislocate and tear
    Thy flesh and bones. Howe'er thou art a fiend,
    A woman's shape doth shield thee.
  • Goneril. Marry, your manhood mew! 2415

Enter a Gentleman.

  • Gentleman. O, my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall 's dead,
    Slain by his servant, going to put out
    The other eye of Gloucester. 2420
  • Gentleman. A servant that he bred, thrill'd with remorse,
    Oppos'd against the act, bending his sword
    To his great master; who, thereat enrag'd,
    Flew on him, and amongst them fell'd him dead; 2425
    But not without that harmful stroke which since
    Hath pluck'd him after.
  • Duke of Albany. This shows you are above,
    You justicers, that these our nether crimes
    So speedily can venge! But O poor Gloucester! 2430
    Lost he his other eye?
  • Gentleman. Both, both, my lord.
    This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer.
    'Tis from your sister.
  • Goneril. [aside] One way I like this well; 2435
    But being widow, and my Gloucester with her,
    May all the building in my fancy pluck
    Upon my hateful life. Another way
    The news is not so tart.- I'll read, and answer. Exit.
  • Gentleman. No, my good lord; I met him back again.
  • Gentleman. Ay, my good lord. 'Twas he inform'd against him, 2445
    And quit the house on purpose, that their punishment
    Might have the freer course.
  • Duke of Albany. Gloucester, I live
    To thank thee for the love thou show'dst the King,
    And to revenge thine eyes. Come hither, friend. 2450
    Tell me what more thou know'st.


. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 3

The French camp near Dover.

      next scene .

Enter Kent and a Gentleman.

  • Earl of Kent. Why the King of France is so suddenly gone back know you the
    reason? 2455
  • Gentleman. Something he left imperfect in the state, which since his
    coming forth is thought of, which imports to the kingdom so much
    fear and danger that his personal return was most required and
  • Gentleman. The Marshal of France, Monsieur La Far.
  • Earl of Kent. Did your letters pierce the Queen to any demonstration of
  • Gentleman. Ay, sir. She took them, read them in my presence,
    And now and then an ample tear trill'd down 2465
    Her delicate cheek. It seem'd she was a queen
    Over her passion, who, most rebel-like,
    Sought to be king o'er her.
  • Gentleman. Not to a rage. Patience and sorrow strove 2470
    Who should express her goodliest. You have seen
    Sunshine and rain at once: her smiles and tears
    Were like, a better way. Those happy smilets
    That play'd on her ripe lip seem'd not to know
    What guests were in her eyes, which parted thence 2475
    As pearls from diamonds dropp'd. In brief,
    Sorrow would be a rarity most belov'd,
    If all could so become it.
  • Gentleman. Faith, once or twice she heav'd the name of father 2480
    Pantingly forth, as if it press'd her heart;
    Cried 'Sisters, sisters! Shame of ladies! Sisters!
    Kent! father! sisters! What, i' th' storm? i' th' night?
    Let pity not be believ'd!' There she shook
    The holy water from her heavenly eyes, 2485
    And clamour moisten'd. Then away she started
    To deal with grief alone.
  • Earl of Kent. It is the stars,
    The stars above us, govern our conditions;
    Else one self mate and mate could not beget 2490
    Such different issues. You spoke not with her since?
  • Earl of Kent. Well, sir, the poor distressed Lear's i' th' town; 2495
    Who sometime, in his better tune, remembers
    What we are come about, and by no means
    Will yield to see his daughter.
  • Earl of Kent. A sovereign shame so elbows him; his own unkindness, 2500
    That stripp'd her from his benediction, turn'd her
    To foreign casualties, gave her dear rights
    To his dog-hearted daughters- these things sting
    His mind so venomously that burning shame
    Detains him from Cordelia. 2505
  • Earl of Kent. Of Albany's and Cornwall's powers you heard not?
  • Earl of Kent. Well, sir, I'll bring you to our master Lear
    And leave you to attend him. Some dear cause 2510
    Will in concealment wrap me up awhile.
    When I am known aright, you shall not grieve
    Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you go
    Along with me. Exeunt.
. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 4

The French camp.

      next scene .

Enter, with Drum and Colours, Cordelia, Doctor, and Soldiers.

  • Cordelia. Alack, 'tis he! Why, he was met even now
    As mad as the vex'd sea, singing aloud,
    Crown'd with rank fumiter and furrow weeds,
    With harlocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo flow'rs,
    Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow 2520
    In our sustaining corn. A century send forth.
    Search every acre in the high-grown field
    And bring him to our eye. [Exit an Officer.] What can man's
    In the restoring his bereaved sense? 2525
    He that helps him take all my outward worth.
  • Doctor. There is means, madam.
    Our foster nurse of nature is repose,
    The which he lacks. That to provoke in him
    Are many simples operative, whose power 2530
    Will close the eye of anguish.
  • Cordelia. All blest secrets,
    All you unpublish'd virtues of the earth,
    Spring with my tears! be aidant and remediate
    In the good man's distress! Seek, seek for him! 2535
    Lest his ungovern'd rage dissolve the life
    That wants the means to lead it.

Enter Messenger.

  • Messenger. News, madam.
    The British pow'rs are marching hitherward. 2540
  • Cordelia. 'Tis known before. Our preparation stands
    In expectation of them. O dear father,
    It is thy business that I go about.
    Therefore great France
    My mourning and important tears hath pitied. 2545
    No blown ambition doth our arms incite,
    But love, dear love, and our ag'd father's right.
    Soon may I hear and see him!


. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 5

Gloucester’s Castle.

      next scene .

Enter Regan and [Oswald the] Steward.

  • Regan. But are my brother's pow'rs set forth?
  • Regan. Himself in person there?
  • Oswald. Madam, with much ado.
    Your sister is the better soldier. 2555
  • Regan. Lord Edmund spake not with your lord at home?
  • Regan. What might import my sister's letter to him?
  • Regan. Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter. 2560
    It was great ignorance, Gloucester's eyes being out,
    To let him live. Where he arrives he moves
    All hearts against us. Edmund, I think, is gone,
    In pity of his misery, to dispatch
    His nighted life; moreover, to descry 2565
    The strength o' th' enemy.
  • Oswald. I must needs after him, madam, with my letter.
  • Regan. Our troops set forth to-morrow. Stay with us.
    The ways are dangerous.
  • Oswald. I may not, madam. 2570
    My lady charg'd my duty in this business.
  • Regan. Why should she write to Edmund? Might not you
    Transport her purposes by word? Belike,
    Something- I know not what- I'll love thee much-
    Let me unseal the letter. 2575
  • Regan. I know your lady does not love her husband;
    I am sure of that; and at her late being here
    She gave strange eyeliads and most speaking looks
    To noble Edmund. I know you are of her bosom. 2580
  • Regan. I speak in understanding. Y'are! I know't.
    Therefore I do advise you take this note.
    My lord is dead; Edmund and I have talk'd,
    And more convenient is he for my hand 2585
    Than for your lady's. You may gather more.
    If you do find him, pray you give him this;
    And when your mistress hears thus much from you,
    I pray desire her call her wisdom to her.
    So farewell. 2590
    If you do chance to hear of that blind traitor,
    Preferment falls on him that cuts him off.
  • Oswald. Would I could meet him, madam! I should show
    What party I do follow.
  • Regan. Fare thee well. Exeunt. 2595
. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 6

The country near Dover.

      next scene .

Enter Gloucester, and Edgar [like a Peasant].

  • Edgar. You do climb up it now. Look how we labour.
  • Edgar. Horrible steep. 2600
    Hark, do you hear the sea?
  • Edgar. Why, then, your other senses grow imperfect
    By your eyes' anguish.
  • Earl of Gloucester. So may it be indeed. 2605
    Methinks thy voice is alter'd, and thou speak'st
    In better phrase and matter than thou didst.
  • Edgar. Y'are much deceiv'd. In nothing am I chang'd
    But in my garments.
  • Edgar. Come on, sir; here's the place. Stand still. How fearful
    And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low!
    The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
    Show scarce so gross as beetles. Halfway down
    Hangs one that gathers sampire- dreadful trade! 2615
    Methinks he seems no bigger than his head.
    The fishermen that walk upon the beach
    Appear like mice; and yond tall anchoring bark,
    Diminish'd to her cock; her cock, a buoy
    Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge 2620
    That on th' unnumb'red idle pebble chafes
    Cannot be heard so high. I'll look no more,
    Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
    Topple down headlong.
  • Edgar. Give me your hand. You are now within a foot
    Of th' extreme verge. For all beneath the moon
    Would I not leap upright.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Let go my hand.
    Here, friend, is another purse; in it a jewel 2630
    Well worth a poor man's taking. Fairies and gods
    Prosper it with thee! Go thou further off;
    Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.
  • Edgar. Now fare ye well, good sir.
  • Edgar. [aside]. Why I do trifle thus with his despair
    Is done to cure it.
  • Earl of Gloucester. O you mighty gods! He kneels.
    This world I do renounce, and, in your sights,
    Shake patiently my great affliction off. 2640
    If I could bear it longer and not fall
    To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
    My snuff and loathed part of nature should
    Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O, bless him!
    Now, fellow, fare thee well. 2645
    He falls [forward and swoons].
  • Edgar. Gone, sir, farewell.-
    And yet I know not how conceit may rob
    The treasury of life when life itself
    Yields to the theft. Had he been where he thought, 2650
    By this had thought been past.- Alive or dead?
    Ho you, sir! friend! Hear you, sir? Speak!-
    Thus might he pass indeed. Yet he revives.
    What are you, sir?
  • Edgar. Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,
    So many fadom down precipitating,
    Thou'dst shiver'd like an egg; but thou dost breathe;
    Hast heavy substance; bleed'st not; speak'st; art sound.
    Ten masts at each make not the altitude 2660
    Which thou hast perpendicularly fell.
    Thy life is a miracle. Speak yet again.
  • Edgar. From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
    Look up a-height. The shrill-gorg'd lark so far 2665
    Cannot be seen or heard. Do but look up.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Alack, I have no eyes!
    Is wretchedness depriv'd that benefit
    To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort
    When misery could beguile the tyrant's rage 2670
    And frustrate his proud will.
  • Edgar. Give me your arm.
    Up- so. How is't? Feel you your legs? You stand.
  • Edgar. This is above all strangeness. 2675
    Upon the crown o' th' cliff what thing was that
    Which parted from you?
  • Edgar. As I stood here below, methought his eyes
    Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses,Horns whelk'd and wav'd like the enridged sea. 2680
    It was some fiend. Therefore, thou happy father,
    Think that the clearest gods, who make them honours
    Of men's impossibility, have preserv'd thee.
  • Earl of Gloucester. I do remember now. Henceforth I'll bear
    Affliction till it do cry out itself 2685
    'Enough, enough,' and die. That thing you speak of,
    I took it for a man. Often 'twould say
    'The fiend, the fiend'- he led me to that place.
  • Edgar. Bear free and patient thoughts.
    Enter Lear, mad, [fantastically dressed with weeds]. 2690
    But who comes here?
    The safer sense will ne'er accommodate
    His master thus.
  • Lear. No, they cannot touch me for coming;
    I am the King himself. 2695
  • Edgar. O thou side-piercing sight!
  • Lear. Nature 's above art in that respect. There's your press
    money. That fellow handles his bow like a crow-keeper. Draw me
    a clothier's yard. Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace; this piece
    of toasted cheese will do't. There's my gauntlet; I'll prove it 2700
    on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. O, well flown, bird! i'
    th' clout, i' th' clout! Hewgh! Give the word.
  • Lear. Ha! Goneril with a white beard? They flatter'd me like a dog,
    and told me I had white hairs in my beard ere the black ones
    were there. To say 'ay' and 'no' to everything I said! 'Ay' and
    'no' too was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me
    once, and the wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would 2710
    not peace at my bidding; there I found 'em, there I smelt 'em
    out. Go to, they are not men o' their words! They told me I was
    everything. 'Tis a lie- I am not ague-proof.
  • Lear. Ay, every inch a king!
    When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.
    I pardon that man's life. What was thy cause?
    Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery? No. 2720
    The wren goes to't, and the small gilded fly
    Does lecher in my sight.
    Let copulation thrive; for Gloucester's bastard son
    Was kinder to his father than my daughters
    Got 'tween the lawful sheets. 2725
    To't, luxury, pell-mell! for I lack soldiers.
    Behold yond simp'ring dame,
    Whose face between her forks presageth snow,
    That minces virtue, and does shake the head
    To hear of pleasure's name. 2730
    The fitchew nor the soiled horse goes to't
    With a more riotous appetite.
    Down from the waist they are Centaurs,
    Though women all above.
    But to the girdle do the gods inherit, 2735
    Beneath is all the fiend's.
    There's hell, there's darkness, there's the sulphurous pit;
    burning, scalding, stench, consumption. Fie, fie, fie! pah, pah!
    Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my
    imagination. There's money for thee. 2740
  • Lear. Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.
  • Earl of Gloucester. O ruin'd piece of nature! This great world
    Shall so wear out to naught. Dost thou know me?
  • Lear. I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny at me? 2745
    No, do thy worst, blind Cupid! I'll not love. Read thou this
    challenge; mark but the penning of it.
  • Edgar. [aside] I would not take this from report. It is,
    And my heart breaks at it. 2750
  • Lear. O, ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your head, nor no
    money in your purse? Your eyes are in a heavy case, your purse
    in a light. Yet you see how this world goes. 2755
  • Lear. What, art mad? A man may see how the world goes with no eyes.
    Look with thine ears. See how yond justice rails upon yond
    simple thief. Hark in thine ear. Change places and, handy-dandy,
    which is the justice, which is the thief? Thou hast seen a 2760
    farmer's dog bark at a beggar?
  • Lear. And the creature run from the cur? There thou mightst behold
    the great image of authority: a dog's obeyed in office.
    Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand! 2765
    Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back.
    Thou hotly lusts to use her in that kind
    For which thou whip'st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.
    Through tatter'd clothes small vices do appear;
    Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold, 2770
    And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
    Arm it in rags, a pygmy's straw does pierce it.
    None does offend, none- I say none! I'll able 'em.
    Take that of me, my friend, who have the power
    To seal th' accuser's lips. Get thee glass eyes 2775
    And, like a scurvy politician, seem
    To see the things thou dost not. Now, now, now, now!
    Pull off my boots. Harder, harder! So.
  • Edgar. O, matter and impertinency mix'd!
    Reason, in madness! 2780
  • Lear. If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.
    I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloucester.
    Thou must be patient. We came crying hither;
    Thou know'st, the first time that we smell the air
    We wawl and cry. I will preach to thee. Mark. 2785
  • Lear. When we are born, we cry that we are come
    To this great stage of fools. This' a good block.
    It were a delicate stratagem to shoe
    A troop of horse with felt. I'll put't in proof, 2790
    And when I have stol'n upon these sons-in-law,
    Then kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!

Enter a Gentleman [with Attendants].

  • Gentleman. O, here he is! Lay hand upon him.- Sir,
    Your most dear daughter- 2795
  • Lear. No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even
    The natural fool of fortune. Use me well;
    You shall have ransom. Let me have a surgeon;
    I am cut to th' brains.
  • Lear. No seconds? All myself?
    Why, this would make a man a man of salt,
    To use his eyes for garden waterpots,
    Ay, and laying autumn's dust.
  • Lear. I will die bravely, like a smug bridegroom. What!
    I will be jovial. Come, come, I am a king;
    My masters, know you that?
  • Gentleman. You are a royal one, and we obey you.
  • Lear. Then there's life in't. Nay, an you get it, you shall get it 2810
    by running. Sa, sa, sa, sa!

Exit running. [Attendants follow.]

  • Gentleman. A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch,
    Past speaking of in a king! Thou hast one daughter
    Who redeems nature from the general curse 2815
    Which twain have brought her to.
  • Edgar. Hail, gentle sir.
  • Gentleman. Sir, speed you. What's your will?
  • Edgar. Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward?
  • Gentleman. Most sure and vulgar. Every one hears that 2820
    Which can distinguish sound.
  • Edgar. But, by your favour,
    How near's the other army?
  • Gentleman. Near and on speedy foot. The main descry
    Stands on the hourly thought. 2825
  • Edgar. I thank you sir. That's all.
  • Gentleman. Though that the Queen on special cause is here,
    Her army is mov'd on.

Exit [Gentleman].

  • Earl of Gloucester. You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me;
    Let not my worser spirit tempt me again
    To die before you please!
  • Edgar. Well pray you, father.
  • Edgar. A most poor man, made tame to fortune's blows,
    Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows,
    Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand;
    I'll lead you to some biding.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Hearty thanks. 2840
    The bounty and the benison of heaven
    To boot, and boot!

Enter [Oswald the] Steward.

  • Oswald. A proclaim'd prize! Most happy!
    That eyeless head of thine was first fram'd flesh 2845
    To raise my fortunes. Thou old unhappy traitor,
    Briefly thyself remember. The sword is out
    That must destroy thee.

[Edgar interposes.]

  • Oswald. Wherefore, bold peasant,
    Dar'st thou support a publish'd traitor? Hence!
    Lest that th' infection of his fortune take
    Like hold on thee. Let go his arm. 2855
  • Edgar. Chill not let go, zir, without vurther 'cagion.
  • Oswald. Let go, slave, or thou diest!
  • Edgar. Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor voke pass. An chud
    ha' bin zwagger'd out of my life, 'twould not ha' bin zo long as
    'tis by a vortnight. Nay, come not near th' old man. Keep out, 2860
    che vore ye, or Ise try whether your costard or my ballow be the
    harder. Chill be plain with you.

They fight.

  • Edgar. Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come! No matter vor your foins. 2865

[Oswald falls.]

  • Oswald. Slave, thou hast slain me. Villain, take my purse.
    If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body,
    And give the letters which thou find'st about me
    To Edmund Earl of Gloucester. Seek him out 2870
    Upon the British party. O, untimely death! Death!

He dies.

  • Edgar. I know thee well. A serviceable villain,
    As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
    As badness would desire. 2875
  • Edgar. Sit you down, father; rest you.
    Let's see his pockets; these letters that he speaks of
    May be my friends. He's dead. I am only sorry
    He had no other deathsman. Let us see. 2880
    Leave, gentle wax; and, manners, blame us not.
    To know our enemies' minds, we'ld rip their hearts;
    Their papers, is more lawful. Reads the letter.
    'Let our reciprocal vows be rememb'red. You have many
    opportunities to cut him off. If your will want not, time and 2885
    place will be fruitfully offer'd. There is nothing done, if he
    return the conqueror. Then am I the prisoner, and his bed my
    jail; from the loathed warmth whereof deliver me, and supply the
    place for your labour.
    'Your (wife, so I would say) affectionate servant, 'Goneril.' 2890
    O indistinguish'd space of woman's will!
    A plot upon her virtuous husband's life,
    And the exchange my brother! Here in the sands
    Thee I'll rake up, the post unsanctified
    Of murtherous lechers; and in the mature time 2895
    With this ungracious paper strike the sight
    Of the death-practis'd Duke, For him 'tis well
    That of thy death and business I can tell.
  • Earl of Gloucester. The King is mad. How stiff is my vile sense,
    That I stand up, and have ingenious feeling 2900
    Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract.
    So should my thoughts be sever'd from my griefs,
    And woes by wrong imaginations lose
    The knowledge of themselves.

A drum afar off.

  • Edgar. Give me your hand.
    Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum.
    Come, father, I'll bestow you with a friend. Exeunt.
. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 7

A tent in the French camp.

      next scene .

Enter Cordelia, Kent, Doctor, and Gentleman.

  • Cordelia. O thou good Kent, how shall I live and work 2910
    To match thy goodness? My life will be too short
    And every measure fail me.
  • Earl of Kent. To be acknowledg'd, madam, is o'erpaid.
    All my reports go with the modest truth;
    Nor more nor clipp'd, but so. 2915
  • Cordelia. Be better suited.
    These weeds are memories of those worser hours.
    I prithee put them off.
  • Earl of Kent. Pardon, dear madam.
    Yet to be known shortens my made intent. 2920
    My boon I make it that you know me not
    Till time and I think meet.
  • Cordelia. Then be't so, my good lord. [To the Doctor] How, does the King?
  • Cordelia. O you kind gods, 2925
    Cure this great breach in his abused nature!
    Th' untun'd and jarring senses, O, wind up
    Of this child-changed father!
  • Doctor. So please your Majesty
    That we may wake the King? He hath slept long. 2930
  • Cordelia. Be govern'd by your knowledge, and proceed
    I' th' sway of your own will. Is he array'd?

Enter Lear in a chair carried by Servants.

  • Gentleman. Ay, madam. In the heaviness of sleep
    We put fresh garments on him. 2935
  • Doctor. Be by, good madam, when we do awake him.
    I doubt not of his temperance.


  • Doctor. Please you draw near. Louder the music there! 2940
  • Cordelia. O my dear father, restoration hang
    Thy medicine on my lips, and let this kiss
    Repair those violent harms that my two sisters
    Have in thy reverence made!
  • Cordelia. Had you not been their father, these white flakes
    Had challeng'd pity of them. Was this a face
    To be oppos'd against the warring winds?
    To stand against the deep dread-bolted thunder?
    In the most terrible and nimble stroke 2950
    Of quick cross lightning? to watch- poor perdu!-
    With this thin helm? Mine enemy's dog,
    Though he had bit me, should have stood that night
    Against my fire; and wast thou fain, poor father,
    To hovel thee with swine and rogues forlorn, 2955
    In short and musty straw? Alack, alack!
    'Tis wonder that thy life and wits at once
    Had not concluded all.- He wakes. Speak to him.
  • Doctor. Madam, do you; 'tis fittest.
  • Cordelia. How does my royal lord? How fares your Majesty? 2960
  • Lear. You do me wrong to take me out o' th' grave.
    Thou art a soul in bliss; but I am bound
    Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears
    Do scald like molten lead.
  • Lear. You are a spirit, I know. When did you die?
  • Doctor. He's scarce awake. Let him alone awhile.
  • Lear. Where have I been? Where am I? Fair daylight,
    I am mightily abus'd. I should e'en die with pity, 2970
    To see another thus. I know not what to say.
    I will not swear these are my hands. Let's see.
    I feel this pin prick. Would I were assur'd
    Of my condition!
  • Cordelia. O, look upon me, sir, 2975
    And hold your hands in benediction o'er me.
    No, sir, you must not kneel.
  • Lear. Pray, do not mock me.
    I am a very foolish fond old man,
    Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less; 2980
    And, to deal plainly,
    I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
    Methinks I should know you, and know this man;
    Yet I am doubtful; for I am mainly ignorant
    What place this is; and all the skill I have 2985
    Remembers not these garments; nor I know not
    Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me;
    For (as I am a man) I think this lady
    To be my child Cordelia.
  • Lear. Be your tears wet? Yes, faith. I pray weep not.
    If you have poison for me, I will drink it.
    I know you do not love me; for your sisters
    Have, as I do remember, done me wrong.
    You have some cause, they have not. 2995
  • Lear. Am I in France?
  • Lear. Do not abuse me.
  • Doctor. Be comforted, good madam. The great rage 3000
    You see is kill'd in him; and yet it is danger
    To make him even o'er the time he has lost.
    Desire him to go in. Trouble him no more
    Till further settling.
  • Cordelia. Will't please your Highness walk? 3005
  • Lear. You must bear with me.
    Pray you now, forget and forgive. I am old and foolish.

Exeunt. Manent Kent and Gentleman.

  • Gentleman. Holds it true, sir, that the Duke of Cornwall was so slain?
  • Gentleman. They say Edgar, his banish'd son, is with the Earl of Kent
    in Germany.
  • Earl of Kent. Report is changeable. 'Tis time to look about; the powers of 3015
    the kingdom approach apace.
  • Gentleman. The arbitrement is like to be bloody.
    Fare you well, sir. [Exit.]
  • Earl of Kent. My point and period will be throughly wrought,
    Or well or ill, as this day's battle's fought. Exit. 3020
. previous scene      

Act V, Scene 1

The British camp near Dover.

      next scene .

Enter, with Drum and Colours, Edmund, Regan, Gentleman, and Soldiers.

  • Edmund. Know of the Duke if his last purpose hold,
    Or whether since he is advis'd by aught
    To change the course. He's full of alteration
    And self-reproving. Bring his constant pleasure. 3025

[Exit an Officer.]

  • Regan. Our sister's man is certainly miscarried.
  • Edmund. Tis to be doubted, madam.
  • Regan. Now, sweet lord,
    You know the goodness I intend upon you. 3030
    Tell me- but truly- but then speak the truth-
    Do you not love my sister?
  • Regan. But have you never found my brother's way
    To the forfended place? 3035
  • Edmund. That thought abuses you.
  • Regan. I am doubtful that you have been conjunct
    And bosom'd with her, as far as we call hers.
  • Edmund. No, by mine honour, madam.
  • Regan. I never shall endure her. Dear my lord, 3040
    Be not familiar with her.
  • Edmund. Fear me not.
    She and the Duke her husband!
    Enter, with Drum and Colours, Albany, Goneril, Soldiers.
  • Goneril. [aside] I had rather lose the battle than that sister 3045
    Should loosen him and me.
  • Duke of Albany. Our very loving sister, well bemet.
    Sir, this I hear: the King is come to his daughter,
    With others whom the rigour of our state
    Forc'd to cry out. Where I could not be honest, 3050
    I never yet was valiant. For this business,
    It toucheth us as France invades our land,
    Not bolds the King, with others whom, I fear,
    Most just and heavy causes make oppose.
  • Edmund. Sir, you speak nobly. 3055
  • Regan. Why is this reason'd?
  • Goneril. Combine together 'gainst the enemy;
    For these domestic and particular broils
    Are not the question here.
  • Duke of Albany. Let's then determine 3060
    With th' ancient of war on our proceeding.
  • Edmund. I shall attend you presently at your tent.
  • Regan. Sister, you'll go with us?
  • Regan. 'Tis most convenient. Pray you go with us. 3065
  • Goneril. [aside] O, ho, I know the riddle.- I will go.
    [As they are going out,] enter Edgar [disguised].
  • Edgar. If e'er your Grace had speech with man so poor,
    Hear me one word.

Exeunt [all but Albany and Edgar].

  • Edgar. Before you fight the battle, ope this letter.
    If you have victory, let the trumpet sound
    For him that brought it. Wretched though I seem,
    I can produce a champion that will prove 3075
    What is avouched there. If you miscarry,
    Your business of the world hath so an end,
    And machination ceases. Fortune love you!
  • Edgar. I was forbid it. 3080
    When time shall serve, let but the herald cry,
    And I'll appear again.

Exit [Edgar].

Enter Edmund.

  • Edmund. The enemy 's in view; draw up your powers.
    Here is the guess of their true strength and forces
    By diligent discovery; but your haste
    Is now urg'd on you.
  • Edmund. To both these sisters have I sworn my love;
    Each jealous of the other, as the stung
    Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take?
    Both? one? or neither? Neither can be enjoy'd,
    If both remain alive. To take the widow 3095
    Exasperates, makes mad her sister Goneril;
    And hardly shall I carry out my side,
    Her husband being alive. Now then, we'll use
    His countenance for the battle, which being done,
    Let her who would be rid of him devise 3100
    His speedy taking off. As for the mercy
    Which he intends to Lear and to Cordelia-
    The battle done, and they within our power,
    Shall never see his pardon; for my state
    Stands on me to defend, not to debate. Exit. 3105
. previous scene      

Act V, Scene 2

A field between the two camps. Alarum within.

      next scene .

Enter, with Drum and Colours, the Powers of France over the stage, Cordelia with her Father in her hand, and exeunt. Enter Edgar and Gloucester.

  • Edgar. Here, father, take the shadow of this tree
    For your good host. Pray that the right may thrive.
    If ever I return to you again,
    I'll bring you comfort. 3110

Exit [Edgar].

Alarum and retreat within. Enter Edgar,

  • Edgar. Away, old man! give me thy hand! away!
    King Lear hath lost, he and his daughter ta'en. 3115
    Give me thy hand! come on!
  • Edgar. What, in ill thoughts again? Men must endure
    Their going hence, even as their coming hither;
    Ripeness is all. Come on. 3120
. previous scene      

Act V, Scene 3

The British camp, near Dover.


Enter, in conquest, with Drum and Colours, Edmund; Lear and Cordelia as prisoners; Soldiers, Captain.

  • Edmund. Some officers take them away. Good guard
    Until their greater pleasures first be known
    That are to censure them. 3125
  • Cordelia. We are not the first
    Who with best meaning have incurr'd the worst.
    For thee, oppressed king, am I cast down;
    Myself could else outfrown false Fortune's frown.
    Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters? 3130
  • Lear. No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison.
    We two alone will sing like birds i' th' cage.
    When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down
    And ask of thee forgiveness. So we'll live,
    And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh 3135
    At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
    Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too-
    Who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out-
    And take upon 's the mystery of things,
    As if we were God's spies; and we'll wear out, 3140
    In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones
    That ebb and flow by th' moon.
  • Lear. Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,
    The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee? 3145
    He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven
    And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes.
    The goodyears shall devour 'em, flesh and fell,
    Ere they shall make us weep! We'll see 'em starv'd first.
    Come. Exeunt [Lear and Cordelia, guarded]. 3150
  • Edmund. Come hither, Captain; hark.
    Take thou this note [gives a paper]. Go follow them to prison.
    One step I have advanc'd thee. If thou dost
    As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way
    To noble fortunes. Know thou this, that men 3155
    Are as the time is. To be tender-minded
    Does not become a sword. Thy great employment
    Will not bear question. Either say thou'lt do't,
    Or thrive by other means.
  • Edmund. About it! and write happy when th' hast done.
    Mark- I say, instantly; and carry it so
    As I have set it down.
  • Captain. I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats;
    If it be man's work, I'll do't. Exit. 3165

Flourish. Enter Albany, Goneril, Regan, Soldiers.

  • Duke of Albany. Sir, you have show'd to-day your valiant strain,
    And fortune led you well. You have the captives
    Who were the opposites of this day's strife.
    We do require them of you, so to use them 3170
    As we shall find their merits and our safety
    May equally determine.
  • Edmund. Sir, I thought it fit
    To send the old and miserable King
    To some retention and appointed guard; 3175
    Whose age has charms in it, whose title more,
    To pluck the common bosom on his side
    And turn our impress'd lances in our eyes
    Which do command them. With him I sent the Queen,
    My reason all the same; and they are ready 3180
    To-morrow, or at further space, t' appear
    Where you shall hold your session. At this time
    We sweat and bleed: the friend hath lost his friend;
    And the best quarrels, in the heat, are curs'd
    By those that feel their sharpness. 3185
    The question of Cordelia and her father
    Requires a fitter place.
  • Duke of Albany. Sir, by your patience,
    I hold you but a subject of this war,
    Not as a brother. 3190
  • Regan. That's as we list to grace him.
    Methinks our pleasure might have been demanded
    Ere you had spoke so far. He led our powers,
    Bore the commission of my place and person,
    The which immediacy may well stand up 3195
    And call itself your brother.
  • Goneril. Not so hot!
    In his own grace he doth exalt himself
    More than in your addition.
  • Regan. In my rights 3200
    By me invested, he compeers the best.
  • Goneril. That were the most if he should husband you.
  • Regan. Jesters do oft prove prophets.
  • Goneril. Holla, holla!
    That eye that told you so look'd but asquint. 3205
  • Regan. Lady, I am not well; else I should answer
    From a full-flowing stomach. General,
    Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony;
    Dispose of them, of me; the walls are thine.
    Witness the world that I create thee here 3210
    My lord and master.
  • Regan. [to Edmund] Let the drum strike, and prove my title thine.
  • Duke of Albany. Stay yet; hear reason. Edmund, I arrest thee
    On capital treason; and, in thine attaint,
    This gilded serpent [points to Goneril]. For your claim, fair
    sister, 3220
    I bar it in the interest of my wife.
    'Tis she is subcontracted to this lord,
    And I, her husband, contradict your banes.
    If you will marry, make your loves to me;
    My lady is bespoke. 3225
  • Duke of Albany. Thou art arm'd, Gloucester. Let the trumpet sound.
    If none appear to prove upon thy person
    Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons,
    There is my pledge [throws down a glove]! I'll prove it on thy 3230
    Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less
    Than I have here proclaim'd thee.
  • Goneril. [aside] If not, I'll ne'er trust medicine. 3235
  • Edmund. There's my exchange [throws down a glove]. What in the world
    he is
    That names me traitor, villain-like he lies.
    Call by thy trumpet. He that dares approach,
    On him, on you, who not? I will maintain 3240
    My truth and honour firmly.
  • Edmund. A herald, ho, a herald!
  • Duke of Albany. Trust to thy single virtue; for thy soldiers,
    All levied in my name, have in my name 3245
    Took their discharge.
  • Regan. My sickness grows upon me.
  • Duke of Albany. She is not well. Convey her to my tent.
    [Exit Regan, led. Enter a Herald.]
    Come hither, herald. Let the trumpet sound, 3250
    And read out this.
  • Captain. Sound, trumpet! A trumpet sounds.
  • Herald. [reads] 'If any man of quality or degree within the lists of
    the army will maintain upon Edmund, supposed Earl of Gloucester,
    that he is a manifold traitor, let him appear by the third sound 3255
    of the trumpet. He is bold in his defence.'
  • Edmund. Sound! First trumpet.
  • Herald. Again! Second trumpet.
  • Herald. Again! Third trumpet.

Trumpet answers within.

Enter Edgar, armed, at the third sound, a Trumpet before him.

  • Duke of Albany. Ask him his purposes, why he appears
    Upon this call o' th' trumpet.
  • Herald. What are you?
    Your name, your quality? and why you answer 3265
    This present summons?
  • Edgar. Know my name is lost;
    By treason's tooth bare-gnawn and canker-bit.
    Yet am I noble as the adversary
    I come to cope. 3270
  • Edgar. What's he that speaks for Edmund Earl of Gloucester?
  • Edmund. Himself. What say'st thou to him?
  • Edgar. Draw thy sword,
    That, if my speech offend a noble heart, 3275
    Thy arm may do thee justice. Here is mine.
    Behold, it is the privilege of mine honours,
    My oath, and my profession. I protest-
    Maugre thy strength, youth, place, and eminence,
    Despite thy victor sword and fire-new fortune, 3280
    Thy valour and thy heart- thou art a traitor;
    False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father;
    Conspirant 'gainst this high illustrious prince;
    And from th' extremest upward of thy head
    To the descent and dust beneath thy foot, 3285
    A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou 'no,'
    This sword, this arm, and my best spirits are bent
    To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak,
    Thou liest.
  • Edmund. In wisdom I should ask thy name; 3290
    But since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,
    And that thy tongue some say of breeding breathes,
    What safe and nicely I might well delay
    By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn.
    Back do I toss those treasons to thy head; 3295
    With the hell-hated lie o'erwhelm thy heart;
    Which- for they yet glance by and scarcely bruise-
    This sword of mine shall give them instant way
    Where they shall rest for ever. Trumpets, speak!

Alarums. Fight. [Edmund falls.]

  • Goneril. This is mere practice, Gloucester.
    By th' law of arms thou wast not bound to answer
    An unknown opposite. Thou art not vanquish'd,
    But cozen'd and beguil'd. 3305
  • Duke of Albany. Shut your mouth, dame,
    Or with this paper shall I stop it. [Shows her her letter to
    - [To Edmund]. Hold, sir.
    [To Goneril] Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil.
    No tearing, lady! I perceive you know it. 3310
  • Goneril. Say if I do- the laws are mine, not thine.
    Who can arraign me for't?
  • Goneril. Ask me not what I know. Exit. 3315

[Exit an Officer.]

  • Edmund. What, you have charg'd me with, that have I done,
    And more, much more. The time will bring it out.
    'Tis past, and so am I.- But what art thou 3320
    That hast this fortune on me? If thou'rt noble,
    I do forgive thee.
  • Edgar. Let's exchange charity.
    I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund;
    If more, the more th' hast wrong'd me. 3325
    My name is Edgar and thy father's son.
    The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
    Make instruments to scourge us.
    The dark and vicious place where thee he got
    Cost him his eyes. 3330
  • Edmund. Th' hast spoken right; 'tis true.
    The wheel is come full circle; I am here.
  • Duke of Albany. Methought thy very gait did prophesy
    A royal nobleness. I must embrace thee.
    Let sorrow split my heart if ever I 3335
    Did hate thee, or thy father!
  • Edgar. Worthy prince, I know't.
  • Duke of Albany. Where have you hid yourself?
    How have you known the miseries of your father?
  • Edgar. By nursing them, my lord. List a brief tale; 3340
    And when 'tis told, O that my heart would burst!
    The bloody proclamation to escape
    That follow'd me so near (O, our lives' sweetness!
    That with the pain of death would hourly die
    Rather than die at once!) taught me to shift 3345
    Into a madman's rags, t' assume a semblance
    That very dogs disdain'd; and in this habit
    Met I my father with his bleeding rings,
    Their precious stones new lost; became his guide,
    Led him, begg'd for him, sav'd him from despair; 3350
    Never (O fault!) reveal'd myself unto him
    Until some half hour past, when I was arm'd,
    Not sure, though hoping of this good success,
    I ask'd his blessing, and from first to last
    Told him my pilgrimage. But his flaw'd heart 3355
    (Alack, too weak the conflict to support!)
    'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,
    Burst smilingly.
  • Edmund. This speech of yours hath mov'd me,
    And shall perchance do good; but speak you on; 3360
    You look as you had something more to say.
  • Duke of Albany. If there be more, more woful, hold it in;
    For I am almost ready to dissolve,
    Hearing of this.
  • Edgar. This would have seem'd a period 3365
    To such as love not sorrow; but another,
    To amplify too much, would make much more,
    And top extremity.
    Whilst I was big in clamour, came there a man,
    Who, having seen me in my worst estate, 3370
    Shunn'd my abhorr'd society; but then, finding
    Who 'twas that so endur'd, with his strong arms
    He fastened on my neck, and bellowed out
    As he'd burst heaven; threw him on my father;
    Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him 3375
    That ever ear receiv'd; which in recounting
    His grief grew puissant, and the strings of life
    Began to crack. Twice then the trumpets sounded,
    And there I left him tranc'd.
  • Edgar. Kent, sir, the banish'd Kent; who in disguise
    Followed his enemy king and did him service
    Improper for a slave.

Enter a Gentleman with a bloody knife.

  • Edgar. What kind of help?
  • Edgar. What means that bloody knife?
  • Gentleman. 'Tis hot, it smokes.
    It came even from the heart of- O! she's dead! 3390
  • Gentleman. Your lady, sir, your lady! and her sister
    By her is poisoned; she hath confess'd it.
  • Edmund. I was contracted to them both. All three
    Now marry in an instant. 3395

Enter Kent.

  • Duke of Albany. Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead.
    [Exit Gentleman.]
    This judgement of the heavens, that makes us tremble 3400
    Touches us not with pity. O, is this he?
    The time will not allow the compliment
    That very manners urges.
  • Earl of Kent. I am come
    To bid my king and master aye good night. 3405
    Is he not here?
  • Duke of Albany. Great thing of us forgot!
    Speak, Edmund, where's the King? and where's Cordelia?
    [The bodies of Goneril and Regan are brought in.]
    Seest thou this object, Kent? 3410
  • Edmund. Yet Edmund was belov'd.
    The one the other poisoned for my sake,
    And after slew herself.
  • Edmund. I pant for life. Some good I mean to do,
    Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send
    (Be brief in't) to the castle; for my writ
    Is on the life of Lear and on Cordelia.
    Nay, send in time. 3420
  • Edgar. To who, my lord? Who has the office? Send
    Thy token of reprieve.
  • Edmund. Well thought on. Take my sword;
    Give it the Captain. 3425
  • Edmund. He hath commission from thy wife and me
    To hang Cordelia in the prison and
    To lay the blame upon her own despair
    That she fordid herself. 3430

[Edmund is borne off.]

Enter Lear, with Cordelia [dead] in his arms, [Edgar, Captain, and others following].

  • Lear. Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stone.
    Had I your tongues and eyes, I'ld use them so 3435
    That heaven's vault should crack. She's gone for ever!
    I know when one is dead, and when one lives.
    She's dead as earth. Lend me a looking glass.
    If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,
    Why, then she lives. 3440
  • Edgar. Or image of that horror?
  • Lear. This feather stirs; she lives! If it be so,
    It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows 3445
    That ever I have felt.
  • Lear. Prithee away!
  • Edgar. 'Tis noble Kent, your friend.
  • Lear. A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all! 3450
    I might have sav'd her; now she's gone for ever!
    Cordelia, Cordelia! stay a little. Ha!
    What is't thou say'st, Her voice was ever soft,
    Gentle, and low- an excellent thing in woman.
    I kill'd the slave that was a-hanging thee. 3455
  • Captain. 'Tis true, my lords, he did.
  • Lear. Did I not, fellow?
    I have seen the day, with my good biting falchion
    I would have made them skip. I am old now,
    And these same crosses spoil me. Who are you? 3460
    Mine eyes are not o' th' best. I'll tell you straight.
  • Earl of Kent. If fortune brag of two she lov'd and hated,
    One of them we behold.
  • Lear. This' a dull sight. Are you not Kent?
  • Earl of Kent. The same- 3465
    Your servant Kent. Where is your servant Caius?
  • Lear. He's a good fellow, I can tell you that.
    He'll strike, and quickly too. He's dead and rotten.
  • Lear. I'll see that straight. 3470
  • Earl of Kent. That from your first of difference and decay
    Have followed your sad steps.
  • Lear. You're welcome hither.
  • Earl of Kent. Nor no man else! All's cheerless, dark, and deadly.
    Your eldest daughters have fordone themselves, 3475
    And desperately are dead.
  • Lear. Ay, so I think.
  • Duke of Albany. He knows not what he says; and vain is it
    That we present us to him.
  • Edgar. Very bootless. 3480

Enter a Captain.

  • Duke of Albany. That's but a trifle here.
    You lords and noble friends, know our intent.
    What comfort to this great decay may come 3485
    Shall be applied. For us, we will resign,
    During the life of this old Majesty,
    To him our absolute power; [to Edgar and Kent] you to your
    With boot, and such addition as your honours 3490
    Have more than merited.- All friends shall taste
    The wages of their virtue, and all foes
    The cup of their deservings.- O, see, see!
  • Lear. And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life!
    Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, 3495
    And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more,
    Never, never, never, never, never!
    Pray you undo this button. Thank you, sir.
    Do you see this? Look on her! look! her lips!
    Look there, look there! He dies. 3500
  • Edgar. He faints! My lord, my lord!
  • Edgar. Look up, my lord.
  • Earl of Kent. Vex not his ghost. O, let him pass! He hates him
    That would upon the rack of this tough world 3505
    Stretch him out longer.
  • Edgar. He is gone indeed.
  • Earl of Kent. The wonder is, he hath endur'd so long.
    He but usurp'd his life.
  • Duke of Albany. Bear them from hence. Our present business 3510
    Is general woe. [To Kent and Edgar] Friends of my soul, you
    Rule in this realm, and the gor'd state sustain.
  • Earl of Kent. I have a journey, sir, shortly to go.
    My master calls me; I must not say no. 3515
  • Duke of Albany. The weight of this sad time we must obey,
    Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
    The oldest have borne most; we that are young
    Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

Exeunt with a dead march.